Secret service operative Ewan (Bean) is escorting an asset when he's caught in a well-planned assassination attempt that results in the loss of a shipment of Semtex. The hit was orchestrated by Islamic terrorist Ash (Galeya), a young British man with murder in mind.
Secret serviceman Ewan (Sean Bean) and terrorist Ash (Abhin Galeya) are set on a collision course as shadowy forces put together a series of bomb attacks in London and equally shadowy forces (repped by the likes of Charlotte Rampling and James Fox) frame a response. An action thriller with political footnotes (and flashbacks), this has impressive performances (especially from Peter Polycarpou as a non-stereotype terrorist preacher) and some solid character bytes, but its corridors-of-power conspiracy is less credible somehow than the cock-up theory of terrorism advanced in Four Lions. Writer-director Hadi Hajaig is as ambitious here as in his unusual horror movie Puritan, though Cleanskin is a little too protracted to be suspenseful and see-saws between straight-ahead genre movie business and state-of-the-nation sincerity.
A brutal, unsparing thriller, if a little on the long side. Director Hajaig's should be applauded for striving to show a balanced view of the radicalisation process and the campaign against terrorism. Sean Bean should be applauded for kicking several shades of ass.