Adrian Brody reunites with his Bullet Head director Paul Solet for the vigilante drama Clean from the IFC films. A tormented garbage man named Clean (Brody) tries to live a quiet life of redemption, spending his day working and looking out for a young neighborhood girl Dianda (Chandler DuPont). Clean has his own business and makes extra money repairing old electronics and reselling them to a pawnshop owner named Kurtis (RZA). During his downtime, Clean speaks with his sponsor Travis (Mykelti Williamson).
While it never receives validation, Clean appears to be either a military veteran or a former addict. But when Clean's good intentions make him the target of a local crime boss Michael (Glenn Fleshler), he must soon reconcile with the violence of his past. In addition to starring in the film, Brody wears the hat of composer, producer, and co-writer. Distinctly, this film is a passion project for the Oscar winner.
Clean begins with a gloomy voiceover from Brody, and we get that feeling that director Paul Solet is trying to modernize 1976's, Taxi Driver. Now, Clean has nowhere near the desire to extract a social cleansing as Bickle did, but the influence is there.
The script portrays Clean as a man who sees the young daughter he lost in the form of Dianda (Chandler DuPont). Meanwhile, Michael has his share of parenting issues with his ex-con son, Mikey (Richie Merritt), who would rather hang out in the streets than join the family business. The script uses a standard angle for Mikey and Diandra to cross paths, leading to the violent showdown between Clean and Michael.
That said, Clean is a slow burn of a movie that may turn off those who want non-stop action. The first hour of the film is languid, and while I get the intent of what the writers were going for, it just didn't fully connect. The problem lies in the reasoning that you've seen the plot of a mysterious man who has a particular set of skills he wants to keep hidden .
Films such as the John Wick franchise and last year's Nobody spoiled us, so it's hard for Clean to hold up. When the action finally does arrive, while brutal and somewhat realistic in its scope, the wait wasn't worth it for me. While I've always loved Brody's commitment to his craft, it wasn't until 2010's Predators and Dragon Blade five years later that I began to see Brody as an action hero. Unfortunately, despite the Oscar winner's best efforts, Clean is a blemish on his resume.
Final Grade: D+
Clean opens in theaters today