Adrien Brody stars as titular garbage collector Clean in director and co-writer Paul Solet’s (who co-wrote the script alongside Brody) lacklustre action flick. The protagonist is the gruff and brooding archetype haunted by a violent past he can’t escape. He feels protective over a local teenager, Diandra (Chandler Ari Dupont), who reminds him of his late daughter. And, when a series of events puts her in the path of the son (Richie Merritt) of a violent gangster (Glenn Fleshler), tragedy strikes and Clean finds himself on a path of vengeance.
It’s a familiar premise that plays into the plot beats audiences would expect. However, it takes almost the entire film for events to kick into gear. Much of the runtime centres around the protagonist going about his day-to-day life. He scavenges junk to sell when he’s not driving his garbage truck. He attends group therapy to cope with his past and gives Diandra sandwiches every day before school. He even paints a graffitied house and feeds a dog. Meanwhile, occasional scenes with the gangsters are used to demonstrate how insanely cruel they are. However, it takes what feels like an eternity for these plot threads to collide, and the ensuing climax isn’t worth the wait. Gore and cheesy one-liners are plentiful as Clean gleefully slaughters henchmen in the final twenty minutes, though the carnage has a floaty and clunky quality to it which fails to leave the visceral impact the finale aims for.
A bigger issue with this film is that it takes itself far too seriously. The protagonist is essentially Travis Bickle if he had a different vocation. Like Bickle, Clean monologues about his discontent towards the crime-ridden streets as he drives through them in the early morning, a soundtrack of moody jazz setting the scene. Clean’s job could even be seen as another manifestation of his desire to clean up the streets. But Taxi Driver this film is not. The key characters are all exaggerated stereotypes to the point of parody, and the script’s unwillingness to acknowledge the ridiculousness of the roster or characters or have any fun along the way with its premise results in a tremendously dull affair.
Clean is released in select cinemas on 4th July 2022.
Watch the trailer for Clean here: