Remember that TV show Heroes, where something happens maybe every 15 episodes to advance the storyline? Cleaner is kind of like that but condensed into a movie. The movie beats around the bush for about half an hour before it actually introduces a conflict; the rest of the 90 minutes is filled with Samuel L. Jackson yelling at various people until we finally encounter a twist at the very end. The "surprise" ending is so contrived and underwhelming you'll want to take a nap after sitting through this film to recover your soul from horrendous boredom by dreaming up something more interesting.
Yawn. So the story. It's about Tom Cutler (Samuel Jackson), a former cop who now makes his living cleaning up crime scenes, hence the movie's mind-blowing, creative title. One day he's tricked into cleaning up a crime scene as part of a cover-up for the murder of a notorious gangster -- apparently executed by some corrupted cops. This compels Tom to investigate the murder himself by walking around and talking to people.
The movie is so dry that 80 percent of its characters seem completely unnecessary. For instance, Tom gets into several arguments with his daughter, who has problems staying awake in school (which we can easily sympathize with while watching this movie), but these talks with his daughter don't lead to anything. Tom also spends a lot of his time blabbering with the murder victim's widow Ann (Eve Mendes), who doesn't aid him in the investigation at all. There isn't even a sex scene to reward us for staying awake.
It's surprising to see a movie with an all-star cast go straight to DVD, but it's comforting that Hollywood actually showed it had some quality standards by keeping this one away from the big screen. Who would've ever thought director Renny Harlin, who brought us Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger, had a sleeper in him? Perhaps the main character of Cleaner is Harlin's composite -- his way of telling us he's tired and going to be retiring soon. And perhaps he should, given how low on energy he seems to be. It'd just be tragic to see him go out with a snore rather than with a bang.
With that said, I'm going to take a nap.
Run time: 88 mins
In Theaters: Friday 18th January 2008
Distributed by: Screen Gems
Production compaines: Millenium Films, Nu Image Films
Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 17%
Fresh: 2 Rotten: 10
IMDB: 6.1 / 10
Director: Renny Harlin
Screenwriter: Matthew Aldrich
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson as Tom Cutler, Ed Harris as Eddie Lorenzo, Eva Mendes as Ann Norcut, Luis Guzmán as Det. Jim Vargas, Keke Palmer as Rose Cutler, Maggie Lawson as Cherie, Jose Pablo Cantillo as Miguel, Robert Forster as Arlo Grange, Desi Page as Jump Roper, Terry Milam as Victim's Neighbor