Writer/Director Hadi Hajaig has written and directed a real masterpiece. The cleric that recruits young Muslims to be suicide bombers and foot soldiers is played by Peter Polycarpou. Polycarpou deftly portrays the process by which young Muslims are conscripted into the service of sinister terror cells. His role in the film is to cajole disaffected young men that feel discriminated against or feel socially excluded into joining a much larger cause. Polycarpou slowly penetrates young men’s minds by providing a sense of belonging and by pretending to care about them. All the while, they are being used and their lives wasted.
The focus of Polycarpou’s colt-like mind games is a young Muslim scholar (Ash) played by Abhin Galeya. Galeya’s character is in transition. He disagrees with British immigration law and policy and does not want to attend law school. Galeya is simply looking for somewhere to belong. Further enticement is being provided by his girlfriend that is addicted to smack and betrays him in her moments of weakness. Polycarpou’s scheming makes him appear like a savior when Galeya is at his most vulnerable state. Galeya is sent to Afghanistan to receive training in arms, bomb making and hand-to hand combat. He is known in law enforcement as a “cleanskin” (to be defined later).
Opposing the young terrorist recruit and seeking out his cleric is Ewan who is portrayed by the finest of actors, Sean Bean. Sean Bean (not to be confused with Mr. Bean…Bean) has personally suffered from a terrorist bombing in London. His wife died in an explosion a mere three years past and it has fueled his desire to seek adjudication by any means necessary. Working against him are his employer and his partner. Both are in cahoots to help the cleric escape and his minions to run wild. Regardless of the obstacles, Sean Bean goes undercover, infiltrates terror cells, and shoots to kill at all times, even at point blank range.
The meat and potatoes of this film is the point/counterpoint, attack/counterattack and action/reaction between Sean Bean and Abhin Galeya’s characters. Their movements and countermovements are exciting, thrilling, and fascinating. A “cleanskin” is a terrorist without a record of violence or crime. In other words, they are handpicked by some terrorist cleric or organizer and led to the firing squad. They are induced to commit a suicide bombing and told they will be rewarded in heaven with family and virgins and god knows what else. Ladies and gentlemen if you love action movies and want to see an extraordinary film about the war on terror, watch Cleanskin with Sean Bean.
Written by Jonathan Jacobs
Member of the Florida Film Critics Circle
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