What would you do if you woke up in a hotel room next to a dead FBI agent, a briefcase filled with $250,000 … and you couldn’t remember who you were? That’s the dilemma facing Jake Rodgers in this oddball actioner that adds urban style to a comedic mash-up of The Bourne Supremacy and M:i:III. Is he a janitor at a video game company? Or is he a top-secret agent? Cue the super-cool spy music … but don’t hold your breath.
While fleeing the hotel, Jake runs into Diane, a voluptuous woman who helps him evade police. On their way (home?) to a huge mansion, Diane complains that she can’t believe Jake doesn’t remember her. After all, she is his wife. Jake doesn’t recall much (except for occasional flashbacks involving combat scenes—and his passion for Skittles), but he’s not about to let that stop him from enjoying the good life. “I’m rich, I have a big house and I’m married to a white woman,” he tells himself. “Am I Lionel Richie?” See what I mean about not holding your breath?
Dreams of the good life are, of course, shattered when he overhears Diane’s nefarious plans for him and must make a hasty retreat. When Jake renews his quest to uncover his lost identity and the reason someone apparently wants him dead, clues lead him to video game company DART. While pondering his conundrum at a diner, he discovers that one of the waitresses, Gina, claims to be his girlfriend.
Gina informs him that he is, in fact, a lowly janitor at DART. Or is he? And is she …? Ongoing war-time flashbacks make it impossible to know for sure, as do cryptic phone messages from a programmer (friend?) named Riley. What is apparent is that for some reason, Jake has hidden a secret microchip (if only he could remember where it is!) that Diane and DART CEO Eric Hauk will stop at nothing to retrieve.
As the tangled plot of Code Name: The Cleaner unfolds, Jake and Gina alternately come to one another’s rescue. Protecting America from espionage proves to be a driving motivator for at least two of the characters.
A doctor suggests that one way to help jog Jake’s memory is to arouse him. Accordingly, Diane dons extremely skimpy lingerie and proceeds to sway seductively in front of and on top of him in a long, risqué scene full of lingering camera shots. (An outtake at the end includes more such footage.) Other scenes picture Diane in revealing outfits exposing a lot of cleavage.
That pretty much sums up the approach this film takes to sex. We see several of Jake’s sleazy fantasies, one of which involves Gina and Diane, lingerie and lots of soap suds. And we endure handfuls of visual and verbal innuendoes, double entendres (hinting at oral sex, among other things), lustful stares, randy come-ons, etc.
When Jake wakes at the beginning of the film, he assumes the person he’s in bed with is a woman—and the filmmakers go crazy with the “big joke.” Similarly, a mix-up has Jake meeting a homosexual man who was hoping to rendezvous with someone he met in an online chat room. The man discloses his vulgar user name and the one of the man he was planning to meet. And he’s disappointed when Jake isn’t interested in him. Elsewhere, another comedic sequence repeatedly conflates a man’s request to be shot with a gun (don’t ask) with a request for gay sex.
A backside-slapping gag involves Jake and an elderly woman—who smiles approvingly. Jake also slaps Diane’s posterior a couple of times. And he “reads” Jet; moviegoers see a centerfold image of a woman in a bikini.
The hefty amount of violence in Code Name: The Cleaner is “sanitized” and almost completely bloodless. Several scenes show Hauk’s men pursuing Jake and Gina, two of whom she shoots. (One falls down and the other rolls off the top of her moving car.) Still another henchman flies off the top of Gina’s Saab when she brakes, and he hits and cracks the windshield of another vehicle.
A flashback scene shows the man Jake wakes up with being shot; a small amount of blood is visible on his shirt and face. Jake also dispatches pursuers with a floor-cleaning machine, a “Wet Floor” placard and a mop. (We see their unconscious bodies on the floor.) Several people get kicked or hit in the crotch. One flies through a glass partition (which shatters). Jake gets hit on the head with a lamp (which breaks), walks on broken glass and falls about 20 feet onto a pickup truck topper (which collapses).
More intense than any of those scenes are several martial arts-style battles in the finale. Hauk has a tough fight with several FBI agents, and takes on Gina as well. Then Gina and Diane duel it out, hitting and kicking one another viciously.
War “footage” of Jake and his comrades shows them firing automatic weapons (though we never witness them hitting anyone) amid explosions and burning buildings.
Jake uses the f-word once and abuses Jesus’ name. Characters employ the s-word about a dozen times, “d–n” and “a–” 20-plus times each, “h—” about 10 times and “b–ch” twice.
Sodium Pentothal, speed, reefer and mai-tais are all mentioned. (The truth serum is injected, causing Jake to writhe on the ground.) In a conversation with a female co-worker it’s suggested that Jake got drunk and perhaps touched her inappropriately at a party. Jake describes himself as “James Bond on Red Bull.”
A janitor raps about his life, rhyming various phrases related to cleaning toilets—he calls himself “the dirty clean rapper.” To escape from Diane’s house, Jake steals one of her cars.
Cedric the Entertainer as an action star? If you think such a suggestion strains credulity, well, you’re right. Even with the supposedly comedic elements of this farcical, faux-spy story tossed in to help us suspend disbelief, it’s a lot to swallow. Dull one-liners are supposed to amp up the humor factor but they don’t connect. The wink-wink, nudge-nudge action clichés Cedric and Co. ape don’t seem satirical or smart, just tired. In a sentence, virtually every aspect of this tale has been told somewhere else—and better.
But if uninspired plot and execution aren’t enough to warn you away, several content issues should be. Characters spew almost 75 profanities, while Nicolette Sheridan’s lingerie-clad shimmying and her sudsy “battle” with Lucy Liu in the final fight offer yet another illustration of how the strip club-meets-Victoria’s Secret mentality has all but taken over the comedy genre.
Other sexual material suggests anonymous homosexual encounters and octogenarian S&M shenanigans. The tagline to the film touts, “In a dirty world, he’s our only hope.” It should read instead, “In a dirty world, he’s no help.” Nothing qualifies as fresh or sanitary in Code Name: The Cleaner—the one irony I suspect the film’s creators didn’t intend.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.