Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Review: "Safe House" is Full of Thrill Rides

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 56 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux

Safe House (2012)
Running time: 115 minutes (1 hour, 55 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong violence throughout and some language
DIRECTOR: Daniel Espinosa
WRITER: David Guggenheim
PRODUCER: Scott Stuber
EDITOR: Richard Pearson
COMPOSER: Ramin Djawadi


Starring: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard, Rubén Blades, Nora Arnezeder, Robert Patrick, and Liam Cunningham

Safe House is a 2012 action thriller and espionage film from Dutch director Daniel Espinosa. Starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, the film follows a young CIA agent and a former CIA agent turned criminal on the run after their safe house is attacked. Safe House is an excellent action thriller, but that’s all it is.

Safe House is set in South Africa, where Matthew James “Matt” Weston (Ryan Reynolds) is a low-level CIA agent. He is the “housekeeper” (essentially the manager) of a CIA safe house in Cape Town, South Africa. Matt is about to have his biggest guest, Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington), an ex-CIA agent turned international criminal. Not long after Frost is brought to Matt’s safe house by a CIA special operations unit, mercenaries attack the house. Matt manages to escape with Frost in his custody, but things only get worse. Matt suspects that there is a security leak at the CIA from someone who wants something that Frost apparently has. Now, Matt has to keep one eye on Frost and the other on the people trying to kill them both.

Safe House is an expertly directed action thriller. Every chase scene is riveting; each one will hold onto your attention with a steely grip. But that’s it. You don’t really get to know the characters, although many have interesting back stories. Characters are either good guys or bad guys, and many are also corpses-to-be. Denzel doesn’t do anything that you haven’t seen him do before, but Ryan Reynolds really sells the idea that he is a young man dealing with something way beyond his pay grade. He shows fear, desperation, and desperate determination in his eyes. He does this with enough intensity to make you believe that he is a serious actor and not just the latest lucky young white guy in Hollywood.

I really enjoyed Safe House. It’s like the Jason Bourne movies, but more meat-and-potatoes action than smart (which the Bourne movies are). I think Safe House should also be noticed for a small role by Rubén Blades, the fine actor, singer/songwriter, and Latin jazz musician. He should be in more movies. In spite of a thin script, that’s what Safe House does: offer surprises and thrills that make you glad you watched it. If you are looking for more, you will need to watch another movie.

7 of 10

Monday, July 09, 2012

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