New high tech gaming systems -- Wii and PS3 -- are in such high demand that people are willing to wait outside of retailers at all hours of the night just to get their hands on one. The scenario is much the same in Code Name: The Cleaner, where everyone is trying to get their hands on the X-1. But this system does more than just play games. It's actually capable of creating real life destruction on a massive scale, and the government has resorted to violence to get it.
At the center of all of the bedlam surrounding the X-1 is an ordinary Joe named Jake (Cedric the Entertainer
). One morning he wakes up in a hotel room next to a dead FBI agent and a briefcase full of money. Jake's got amnesia. Though he has no idea how he got there, a couple of hot-looking women seem to have an idea. The voluptuous Diane (Nicolette Sheridan
) claims to be Jake's wife and helps him elude the authorities. Diane takes him to a sprawling mansion that she claims he owns and tries desperately, even stripping down to her bare essentials, to jog his cluttered memory. Even though we know as little as Jake, it's clear that Diane is up to no good. Article continues below
Once Jake finally figures out that Diane is a fraud, he bails. Jake ends up at a diner across the street from video game manufacturer Digital Arts, where the smokin' hot waitress Gina (Lucy Liu
) is pissed at him. Of course with his amnesia, Jake hasn't got a clue who this sexpot is either. But she apparently knows all about him and fills us in on his identity. We learn that Jake is really a janitor at Digital Arts who loves playing video games and eating Quizno subs. So, in the span of a day, Jake's gone from a retired millionaire to a blue collar worker. Jake refuses to believe any of it: He thinks he's some sort of secret agent involved in covert operations much like in the video game he plays.
At this point, it's already halfway into the movie and we still have no idea who Diane and Gina are nor how Jake is involved in the crime at the hotel. The Cleaner keeps us in a fog. New characters randomly float in and out of the action without explanation. Some FBI agents are corrupt, while some are not, but they all report to the same boss. Who are the good guys, anyhow? Bits and pieces of the story are leisurely revealed. What's uncovered is a ridiculously complex government conspiracy plot regarding the vague capabilities of the X-1 that Jake somehow figured out. But wait, he's a J-A-N-I-T-O-R? I'm still trying to figure out how the hell a video game chip can really destroy the earth and how Jake could figure this out himself.
Cedric the Entertainer is far from entertaining here. In fact, his performance is a complete dud -- he looks just as perplexed as the audience. It's clear that the lack of a coherent story structure and insufficient character development negatively impacted his work. It's no wonder that his best material actually appears in the outtakes shown during the final credits. Sheridan and Liu are terrific eye candy, but their one-dimensional characters offer very little appeal when not in their lingerie. In the end, this low tech adventure proves to be less like the highly advanced PS3, and more like the primitive Atari.