Cleanis a 2021 crime drama that stars Adrien Brody as the titular character, who is attempting to live a quieter life after dealing with a tormenting past. When Clean, a garbage man, crosses paths with the local crime operation, he finds himself descending into the old profession that garnered the infamy he shamefully hides. Written, produced, and even scored by Brody, Clean serves as a pride project for the award-winning actor who may have done just a little too much in this IFC feature.
A Bounty of Brody:Clean is a postcard to late 2000s IFC productions. It is gritty, paced with that “artsy” touch, which has the name of Brody to carry every scene. But, for as strong of an actor Brody is, Clean suffers at times from what looks like fear of correcting the Oscar winner. Perhaps there was an understanding that director Paul Solet and Brody had together, but the first act of this film is ripe with a dull “tough guy” performance that lands short of the Taxi Driver homage that is attempted. Even if Brody were directed a little more by Solet, he still performs better than 99% of the other bodies on screen. Only antagonist Glenn Flesher, who portrays a very cold, convincing gangster (Michael) — provides an entertaining display of acting. Brody’s music arrangement is surprisingly well put together with some fascinating beats to increase the intensity of some scenes.
Action is Good Enough:There is plenty of expected action in Clean: car chases, brutality with a unique, signature weapon by Clean, the ronin style approach of the man himself, etc. Combat in this feature is nowhere near the level of John Wick, but it reminds an audience of the more concussive fisticuffs of Drive or The Equalizer. Solet and Brody were likely inspired by the direction of guys like Antoine Fuqua,Nicolas Winding Refn, and Scorsese; Clean is just not nearly as fleshed out as most projects from the aforementioned filmmakers.
Missed Opportunity:Glenn Flesher does a nice job of playing the sadistic crime boss, Michael. A self-proclaimed saint and business enthusiast who can’t control his disappointment of a son — Micheal offers a common antagonist in this sub-genre; however, he is more compelling than the usual Russian drug lord that is often copied into this kind of script. The issue is there is not nearly enough opportunity in the story for Flesher to branch out any further with the character. Clean is a short feature that could have benefitted from more development with Michael.
Audiences will be engaged by the story and brutality Adrien Brody brings.