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'Clean' review: Adrien Brody gets his hands very, very, very dirty


Oscar winner Brody stars as a man who can't outrun his violent past in director Paul Solet's grungy midnight thriller.

Academy Award-winner Adrien Brody goes dark as night in the ultraviolent "Clean," a deeply moody, very midnight-y revenge thriller that's like "John Wick" for the grindhouse set.   

Brody, who co-wrote the script (and also composed the trap-laden score, respect), plays a mysterious upstate New York man with a haunted past who goes only by Clean. By day he puts fresh coats of paint on dilapidated inner-city homes and by night he drives a garbage truck, anything to keep his mind off his vice: sadistic, barbaric violence, usually inflicted with garage tools like his trusty heavy-duty wrench, which he wields like Thor's hammer of the gods.   

Brody mutters "Taxi Driver"-like narration like he's been up for three whole nights and has no plans to go to sleep. "No matter how hard I try, I can't wash away the past," he grumbles, and pity the poor sound engineer who had to stay up until 4:30 in the morning recording the voiceover session. 

But there's little chance of washing away that past, and it comes back with a vengeance when Clean mangles the face of the man who attacks the neighborhood girl he protects (another "Taxi Driver" tie) and reminds him of the daughter he once lost. That man is the son of a local mafioso, who is played by "Joker's" Glenn Fleshler in a role he chews on like it's a cheap skirt steak from a Coney Island. 

Director Paul Solet creates a disturbing mood and builds to a climactic showdown that doesn't skimp on the gory details or grungy kills. "Clean" doesn't aim high, it aims low, but it hits its target square-on, and its murky depictions of gut-churning violence don't wash away easily. 

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama

'Clean'

GRADE: B

Not rated: Extreme violence, language, adult situations

Running time: 93 minutes

In theaters and On Demand