Former New Jersey cop Tom Carver (Samuel L. Jackson) now runs Steri-Clean, a crime scene cleaning business, while raising teenage daughter Rose (Keke Palmer) in the wake of his wife's murder. Booked to clean a crime scene in a smart neighborhood, Tom does a typically efficient job of eradicating all traces of what looks to be a messy shooting. When he forgets to leave the key and returns to drop it off, he's startled to learn the lady of the house, Ann Norcut (Eva Mendes), has no idea what he's talking about. But her husband's gone missing. The case brings together Tom's ex-partner Eddie Lorenzo (Ed Harris), detective Jim Vargas (Luis Guzman) and shadowy figures within City Hall who recall a time when Tom wasn't as honest or as diligent as he is now.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Samuel L. Jackson does a solid job as Tom Carver, the ex cop who cleans up a crime scene and thus almost covers up a murder. It's a clever premise and helps drive this offbeat cop drama involving corruption, revenge and lies. Jackson's screen authority provides ballast for the character, and he's well supported by young Keke Palmer as Rose, his teenage daughter, who is still grieving for her murdered mother. That backstory also carries elements that haunt Tom, as well as serving as a domestic trauma that he has to deal with.
Ed Harris is in top form as the cop who is also Rose's godfather - a relationship that plays in the background. Luis Guzman is impressive as the tough little detective in homicide, while Eva Mendes is less vibrant than she can be as Ann, the woman whose husband had some secrets that he thought would keep him safe. Her own secrets didn't help her, either.
Renny Harlin is used to this sort of thriller material, what with Die Hard 2: Die Harder and Cliffhanger (among others) on his track record, although the scale of Cleaner is smaller (well suited to DVD, though). His attention to detail ensures that the film can also be used as a DIY instruction manual for cleaning up messy, gooey crime scenes and leave the place like a driven 50s housewife might.
Published: May 22, 2008
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CLEANER: DVD (MA)
CAST: Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Harris, Eva Mendes, Keke Palmer, Luis Guzman, Christa Campbell, Ritchie Montgomery, Robert Forster, Peter Franzen
PRODUCER: Avi Lerner, Samuel L. Jackson
DIRECTOR: Renny Harlin
SCRIPT: Matthew Aldrich
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Scott Kevan
EDITOR: Brian Berden
MUSIC: Richard Gibbs
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Richard Berg
RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes
PRESENTATION: 16:9; DD 5.1
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Sony
DVD RELEASE: May 7, 2008
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.