There are about a half dozen actors in Hollywood who practically guarantee success at the box office. One of these men is Denzel Washington, who has just about as much star power as anyone. Throw in the versatile heartthrob that is Ryan Reynolds, and you have a new-age "odd couple," though instead of starring in a new comedy, they’ve thrown their collective weight behind action flick Safe House.
The film focuses on Matt Weston, played by Reynolds, who is a young CIA agent assigned to a vacant safe house in South Africa. For those who don’t know what a safe house is, Wikipedia explains that it is “a place where undercover operatives may conduct clandestine observations or meet other operatives surreptitiously.”
Weston is eager for an opportunity to prove himself and is afforded the chance when notorious CIA traitor Tobin Frost, played by Washington, is captured and taken to the safe house. On the verge of a torturous interrogation, the safe house is attacked by armed men and Weston forced to escape to the streets with Frost in tow.
From there, the armed men and the CIA are in hot pursuit of Frost, while Weston struggles to keep his “houseguest” in custody. Soon a complex conspiracy begins to unravel as Weston is drawn deeper and deeper into the fracas. It wasn’t particularly original, instead proving to be a run-of-the-mill action flick, but it was fairly entertaining.
I don’t know what it is about Washington, but he always captures my attention. If you look at his characters throughout the years, they’re not all that different; nonetheless, Washington tends to deliver. His performance in Safe House wasn’t anything special, but was on par with his performances in movies like Unstoppable, The Taking of Pelham123, Déjà vu, and Inside Man, all of which are entertain with a certain level of mediocrity.
In regards to Reynolds, I was actually pleased with his presentation. It was refreshing to see him play the role of an inexperienced and bumbling protagonist rather than a romantic-comedy or superhero lead. Reynolds has done quite a few action movies now, and if he plays his cards right, meaning if he chooses his projects wisely, he could become a formidable action star.
In addition to Washington and Reynolds, the supporting cast delivered fair performances. I always enjoy Brendan Gleeson, who you may know as Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody in the Harry Potter films, and he did not disappoint here. Likewise, both Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air, Source Code) and Sam Shepard (Black Hawk Down, Swordfish) made the most of their roles.
One of the things that struck me about Safe House was the way it was filmed. I don’t know what would be the right word to describe it, but all I could think of while watching it was "gritty." I saw that in a good way though. The colors, sets, and landscape combined to give the film a cheap, yet realistic, feel that I found engaging. As far as the story goes, I thought the covert elements were rather predictable. Even so, I enjoy being proven right almost as much as I like being duped.
Safe House is a film that isn’t particularly great, but it is entertaining. If you’re looking for an average action movie with above-average actors, then Safe House is for you. If you want originality and unpredictable mystery, then there are probably better options out there.
Buddies Forever Movie Club Rating: 59%
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