Cleanskin - Triple Play Edition Blu-ray Review
Cleanskin comes to Region Free UK Blu-ray complete with a fairly gritty 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen. I have to say that it’s not always the prettiest-looking movie, with the video presentation sometimes betraying the film’s low budget almost-TV roots, and showing up a slightly unnecessary level of aberrant noise. The result, whilst arguably not particularly pleasant, is almost excusable when you consider the film itself, which has a very inherently gritty nature, but it’s not exactly demo quality material.
Detail is good, but certainly not precision-point accurate, with softness creeping into some scenes more than you’d like, although – conversely – some shots showcase a superb amount of fine object detail that is totally in-line with what you would expect from a decent HD presentation and, as aforementioned, a lot of the issues can be written off as stylistic choices. The colour scheme is fairly muted, perhaps to reflect the British setting; perhaps just because of the material again, but there are a few spurts of more vibrant, vivid tones, and, in general, most of the palette is rendered accurately. Black levels are often far from perfect, but, overall, this is not a bad video presentation, just a somewhat unexceptional one. Perhaps what you’d expect for the budget, and sometimes perfectly suited to the content, but hardly remarkable as a result.
On the aural front we get a solid if far from exceptional DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that does a decent job, but certainly won’t stand out amidst its bigger-budget, more refined counterparts. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout the proceedings, largely dominating the frontal array, and we get some reasonably good effects coverage, but normally either when a bomb goes off; when a car screeches off; or when somebody is shooting a gun. Otherwise there’s only reluctant attention paid to ambient street buzz and background chatter, creating some kind of reasonably engaging atmosphere, although it’s not always effective. The score is pretty generic, but does give the surrounds bit more to do, opening up across the array. The LEF channel rumbles occasionally – although sometimes you wonder whether it is growling almost out of frustration from having not enough to do. Overall it’s a perfectly acceptable job for this movie, but one can’t help but wonder what a more aurally fulfilling accompaniment would have done to enhance the experience.
All we get is a bunch of trailers.
Brutal and uncompromising, this engaging little Brit counter-terrorism thriller pits Sean Bean against an unidentified ‘cleanskin’; part of a cell of suicide bombers who are lighting up London. Although it’s not the first film to explore both sides of the coin, the time devoted to expanding upon the backstory of the lead antagonist makes this a cut above your average terrorist thriller. The flipside is Sean Bean’s tough, relentless Secret Service agent, who makes up for a slight lack of character development with brooding menace, and certainly keeps up his end of the action. Whilst arguably the writer/director doesn’t go quite far enough in exploring the nuances of either of the characters, it’s a worthy effort, and a surprisingly good one, particularly considering the very limited budget.
On Region Free UK Blu-ray we get pretty average video and audio – nothing outstanding, but nothing that doesn’t suit the material and nothing that will particularly diminish your enjoyment of it. The extras are non-existent, apart from a couple of the trailers and a DVD copy of the film, but what else did you expect for this kind of low-budget, limited-release effort? Honestly, if you like Sean Bean, you should pick this up; if you enjoy counter-terrorist fare, you should check it out; if you appreciate a good Brit thriller, it’s worth considering as a nice, slight alternative to the usual generic genre entries; and if it for any other reason it otherwise tempts you, you could certainly do worse than pick it up blindly – you may just find it to be something of a hidden gem.
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