‘Safe House’ Movie Review
Coming off a quiet 2011, Denzel Washington got back onto the big screen in Swedish director Daniel Espinosa’s Safe House. Washington, one of Hollywood’s most consistent performers, has a reputation for being type-cast for certain roles, making this film seem a little familiar. Although it wasn’t very easy to love, the film also is tough to completely detest. That’s probably not what the film was aiming for, but at least they didn’t fail to entertain.
Safe House also stars Ryan Reynolds, who plays the token “good guy.” Matt Weston (Reynolds) is a young CIA agent responsible for watching over a safe house in South Africa. It becomes increasingly obvious that he wants more from his job, hoping that he can get promoted to something a bit more enthralling. What better way to up your field experience and credibility than dealing with the CIA’s biggest threat: a rogue agent willing to sell any and all of the government’s secrets?
Tobin Frost (Washington) is said rogue agent. After turning against the government nine years previously, Frost has been selling intel across the globe. During his dealings, he’s made his fair share of enemies. After acquiring an unknown file, Frost immediately becomes a target, forcing him to run for his life. With nowhere else to turn, he gives himself up to the U.S. embassy to avoid being captured and killed. The U.S. government must protect him in South Africa before he gets transported back to the U.S. to questioning. Weston must retain and protect Frost, even when the going gets tough.
Like I’ve referenced earlier, Washington is consistently showing his acting chops. In this sense, you can’t be disappointed with Safe House. Likewise, the action (especially in the first quarter of the movie) appears to be well choreographed and shot. The editing style is a bit funky, but we really can’t expect too much from the action. There aren’t too many over-the-top moments which tend to plague a lot of films.
However, the plot pertaining to the action is where the film starts to get tiring. The number one mission in Safe House appears to be creating a run-and-gun scenario, since there seem to be hundreds of them. Instead of developing a deeper plot, the filmmakers decided to make as many action scenarios without one bit of explanation. When you consider the skimpy nature of the plot, it’s really hard to believe the file Frost obtained should have even reached him. Likewise, how could Frost have survived nine years of this?
To make matters worse, the story’s resolution solidifies the gaping holes. Continually speaking, movies have multiple points where they could end. In the unfortunate case of Safe House, they missed it by about 10 minutes. This isn’t to say my preference for an ending would’ve been better, but I think it could’ve improved my thoughts significantly.
The film fits right into the mindless action stereotype. While it’s certainly entertaining, the film has huge holes that are really hard to overlook. These holes start to add up to make a film that is a bit more forgettable than anyone would like.
If you don’t think too much, this film has the potential to be good. However, this doesn’t make it an amazing, or even great, picture. Washington is one of the highlights, but he doesn’t bring anything groundbreaking to the screen. The film lacks in depth and the obvious goal of creating very similar scenes that you probably know the outcomes to before it concludes. If you are in the group of people who just love pure action (nothing wrong with this) I wouldn’t hesitate seeing this. However, if you want a little substance to the action, this isn’t the best movie to satisfy your needs.