Safe House Review - Not So Safe After All !
Review of the new feature film Safe House starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds .
Safe House Review
I first saw the trailer for Safe House in November last year whilst on vacation in the United States and eagerly looked forward to its release in the UK – after all , what could possibly go wrong ? a spy movie with Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds in the lead roles – bound to be good ! – or so I thought……unfortunately Safe House did not live up to my expectations ,but first , the plot ;
The film focuses on a legendary agent named Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington), who’s publicized skills and intellect are matched only by his well-known status as being a traitorous rogue to the CIA. When Frost becomes the target of a murderous hit squad, he has no choice but to go to the CIA where he is immediately arrested and placed in a safe house for interrogation under the supervision of CIA rookie Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds). The safe house is attacked by the hit squad and kills everyone except for Frost and Weston, the two must now reluctantly work together and go on the run to survive and make it to another CIA safe house before Frost and his secrets are silenced forever.
From the trailers and clips you see of the film, you expect a lot of intensity between Reynolds and Washington; like some sort of sophisticated CIA, hero and villain team up which gives us a better insight to Frost’s motivations for going rogue and what makes his character so interesting in the first place. Sadly, the reality of the situation is that neither the film, the acting, the characters nor anything else about this film is even remotely what I would call interesting. Its’ like you took the set up for “Silence of the Lambs” only you ripped out all the good parts and tried to fill with holes with a lot of stolen shots, fight scenes, and camera work from the “Bourne” movies starring Matt Damon. Even the shaky camera in Bourne’s sequel “Bourne Supremacy” wasn’t as garbled and headache inducing as this film was. The reason and motivations for everything we expected to see are sadly replaced with many gory action sequences and an extra hour or so of film that didn’t help this film in any way, shape, or form. People think since the “Bourne” films came out, anytime you have a film with shaky camera angles, graphic fight scenes and include a “rogue federal agent” storyline, that makes it worth watching …it doesn’t! This film probably wouldn’t be such a total waste of so-called script writing and money if it were not for the fact that our two leads are excellent actors, yet they decided to sleepwalk throughout this whole picture with the least amount of effort possible.
I think that’s probably the biggest disappointment about this film -I understand the Tony Scott style of shooting and design for the whole spy movie genre; everyone is using that style now days so in a way this sort of design is to be expected in modern spy movies. However, Washington has received much recognition for his acting talents and has plenty of awards to back his fame up 100%. In “Safe House”, he churned out cheap carbon copies of past roles he’s done or ripped off from other movies and just breezes through it as if he’s not even trying. Maybe the script is just so weak they can’t get past their typical character archetypes, which is the problem with how Reynolds character is being handled. Reynolds turns in an performance in this film which doesn’t do him justice – one can only assume that the weakness of the script is to blame The same applies to the supporting cast, guys like Brendan Gleeson and Sam Shepard, great actors who have done great work in the past but churn out mediocre, borderline pointless performances in this film.
I really don’t know what this film thought it was trying to do. If you’ve seen any modern day spy movie nowadays, this is going to look no different from the rest. The only way “Safe House” will seem fresh and well made to anyone is if you haven’t seen a spy movie in decades.
There’s nothing safe or sound in “Safe House”, it’s an over long “Bourne identity” knock off without actually having anything that made those movies good in the first place. You’re better off waiting for a film where great actors like Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds actually put forth the effort towards a decent story, instead of settling for this shaky mess.
In summary, I would not recommend this film - a wasted opportunity given the talent available but really not worth a cinema visit !