Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Safe House Review

Genre: Action
Directed by: Daniel Espinosa
Starring: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds
Release Date: February 10, 2012

The Plot

Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) is a CIA operative in charge of guarding a safe house in Cape Town, South Africa.  Trouble is, the US government has never sent anyone to the safe house for protection during Weston's 12-month assignment.  Just as his frustration becomes unbearable, Weston is finally informed that someone is being escorted to his safe house. 

When the mysterious visitor arrives, Weston discovers that it is Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington), a CIA agent gone rogue who had dropped off the grid a year ago.  The safe house is soon attacked by experienced gunmen who are trying to capture Frost.  To keep Frost safe, Weston sneaks him away from the safe house.  Thus begins a cycle of driving, running, fighting, and shooting that will test Weston's skills and endurance.

What's Good

  • The film is suspenseful throughout.  The calmer scenes get shattered by sudden gunshots that escalate into intense combat sequences.  These sequences dominate the movie.  While the hand-to-hand combat is brutal, there's not much variety.  One bad guy getting his face bashed in or his neck snapped is pretty much the same as the next.

  • The car chase scene is harrowing.  But I'm amazed that Weston is able to navigate the congested city streets while talking on a cell phone, dodging bullets, and fending off an attacker.

What's Not

  • Reynolds and Washington are both strong actors.  Unfortunately, their talents are never properly displayed.  Mostly, the two actors just wear intense expressions throughout the movie.  In Weston's interactions with his girlfriend, though, you can see his humanity breaking through his tough exterior.  These scenes are among the most touching in the movie.
  • Despite a nice plot twist, the story is so straightforward that it's a little dull.   But the story isn't the real focus here.  Nor is Reynolds's habit of removing his shirt so that women can gawk at his musculature.  The real focus is Weston and Frost pummeling bad guys.

  • The film is strongly reminiscent of The Bourne Ultimatum, even sharing some plot elements.  Safe House just has a less intriguing story, less memorable characters, and less stylish action.

The Drum Roll Please . . .

I know my negative comments outweigh my positive, but the truth is I enjoyed Safe House, simply because of the relentless action and suspense.  It's a good movie to watch if you want to get your adrenaline pumping.  Just don't expect to see anything new.

7 out of 10

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