Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Harris, Luis Guzman, Eva Mendez
Directed by Renny Harlin
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2008
Cleaner is an odd and different mystery. It's not a great DVD but it's not bad either: a decent watch on a rainy weekend.
It opens like Six Feet Under. For a couple of minutes it is a movie about a single father raising his kid and trying to run a business with some odd employees. Cleaner then becomes a full-fledged whodunit. This would normally make for a mess but this is not the case here.
Ex-cop Tom Carver (Samuel L. Jackson in another solid performance) runs Steri-Clean, a service that cleans up murder scenes or the mess someone made when they slipped off a stool and this mortail coil.
One day, he returns to a crime scene he cleaned up to give back the house key. The owner of the house tells him she has no idea what he is talking about, there has been no crime. Back at the office he realizes the case number for the job is bogus and so is the detective who called in the work order. This means he cleaned up evidence.
In the background there is a developing news story about cop corruption, a major trial, and a missing key witness.
Cleaner is not an action movie DVD. This is a subdued mystery about Carver trying to figure out what is going on, talking to his old partner (Ed Harris) for some assistance, and trying not to become the focus of the investigation of the murder he cleaned up after.
You do get the feeling this movie could have been better but it's hard to figure out how. Aside from Eva Mendez who plays a very generic character the performances are all solid. The story is pretty original but perhaps Cleaner has one secondary story too many.
There are also, and this is something that might annoy a few mystery fans, a couple of plot items that are given great importance and end up totally forgotten.