Clean (2021) A messy love letter to B rated Vigilante Films.
Adrian Brody's career has resurfaced as of late, thanks to the ePix series Chapelwaite and now, Clean, an action thriller where the titular character saves an innocent girl from a horrendous act, only to find himself embroiled in a manhunt between two criminal factions: the local thugs, and the mob run buy a ruthless captain. Chalk this one as the "no good deed goes unpunished" coda.
Clean is your updated "adaptation” of Taxi Driver, with its self-narration and that familiar isolated vigilante who saves girl in distress trope. There are also minor similarities to You Were Never Really Here with the been there, done that "path of redemption" trope, shoehorned in. What little of what is presented in "Clean's" personal tragedy, is shown via dialogue free flashbacks, which offers some explanation of his past drug addiction. Other than that, he's your not so strong silent type who looks to be your everyman type as he cleans sanitation trucks when not going to AAA meetings. Obviously, he is a recovering addict ergo, the movie's title serves as a adept double entendre.
The central antagonist, Michael, (Glenn Flesher) is a dope smuggler who runs a seafood warehouse (guess how he receives the heroin imports?) is your garden variety contradictory Mafia asshole, if he's not bludgeoning his distributors for shorting the supply, or berating his son, Michael is seen as being very generous towards the parish.
Yet, it's "Clean's" brutal methods of disposing criminals that more than speaks for him. And brutal it is, as our hero or rather, Antihero bashes lowlifes with a hammer, slice, dice but doesn't make "Julian fries", however, there's this one effective kill, performed with a flare pistol.
Personally, I’m no fan of Brody whatsoever, especially after he starred in The Pianist, a World War 2 period drama directed by Roman "Raping" Polanski, not to mention how he assaulted actress Halle Berry for the whole world to see during his win for best actor at the the Academy Awards. And did you know, that he signed a petition which called for Polanski's release, during his arrest in Switzerland for raping a 13 Year old girl. Birds of a feather, but allow me to digress if you will.
Overall, Clean reeks of a modernized B rated exploitative film, shot on a tiny budget with Brody providing the needledrop music cues, along with writing and producing this sub par thriller. While the violent scenes are brutal, especially during the final act, it's the dialog and thematic elements that are out of sync if not entirely engaging. As one who has seen his share of vigilante films, i.e., Taxi Driver, Death Wish, Coffy, or The Exterminator, Clean does not measure up to these classics in any, way, shape or form. Its third act delivers the blood-soaked goodies; unfortunately, you must slog through the first 70 minutes. Unless you long press the fast-forward button, of course.😑
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