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Safe House

A movie directed by Daniel Espinosa

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Safe House plays it all too safe.

  • Feb 12, 2012
Rating:
+2

SAFE HOUSE

Written by David Guggenheim

Directed by Daniel Espinosa

Starring Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds and Brendan Gleeson

 

Tobin Frost: Remember Rule no. 1 - You are responsible for your house guest. I am your house guest.

 

Despite the title, at no point in time while watching SAFE HOUSE will you feel anything close to safe. Director, Daniel Espinosa, an unproven talent in the industry before now, delivers a non-stop thrill ride that provides Denzel Washington with an all too uncommon role worthy of his weight as an actor and co-star, Ryan Reynolds with an opportunity to step up his sometimes all too easy game. Once the chase is on, it is flat out relentless. By the time you do actually get to catch your breath though, you might wonder if there was any real need for all the fuss.

 

Washington plays Tobin Frost, a former C.I.A. operative who went rogue years ago and is now one of the most wanted traitors on the American watch list. After acquiring a microchip with naturally damaging information on it, he becomes instant prey around the world, allows himself to be caught and then finds himself in a C.I.A. safe house, which is a holding tank of sorts, awaiting his fate. Reynolds plays Matt Weston, a green C.I.A. operative whose job it is to oversee this safe house in Cape Town, Africa. It sounds important but he hasn’t had a single guest in the year he’s been there. Once the safe house is inevitably compromised, Washington and Reynolds begin a dance that finds them both helping and hindering each other as they try to stay alive together.

 

In the end, SAFE HOUSE plays too safe a hand. Espinosa plays all his cards properly, including shaky camera, grainy tone and off center framing, all devices that heighten tension and keep the viewer on edge, but it’s an exercise in competency at best. At no point does it elevate to a place of originality, which is also due to the oversimplified plot structure. David Guggenheim, another untested player, has written a script that relies too heavily on the genre’s familiarity to make any part of it necessarily memorable. For instance, we don’t know what’s on this microchip until much later on in the film but it doesn’t even matter what is on it really. All that matters is the chase. Espinosa can keep that chase fast and taut, and this is what makes SAFE HOUSE a pretty safe bet, but once the cat catches the mouse, the game is gone and simply forgotten.

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Safe House plays it all too safe. Safe House plays it all too safe. Safe House plays it all too safe.

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February 14, 2012
Denzel Washington's presence is the only redeeming factor in the overall movie presentation. I am fine !
March 03, 2012
He was impressive in this film, yes. And I do think he elevated Reynolds's game too.
March 04, 2012
Agreed.
 
February 13, 2012
I wanted to see this, but I am a little weary of the usual H-wood serving of an action fllm. Seems like I did not miss much. How are you, Joseph?
March 03, 2012
It's fairly standard fare. Fully acceptable but also fully forgettable.
 
1
More Safe House reviews
review by . July 26, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
** out of ****    Rogue ex-CIA Agent turned criminal Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) meets with M16 agent Alec Wade (Liam Cunningham), who gives him a file that is apparently much-sought after by a group of vicious mercenaries. Tobin, gone from America for many years, suddenly enters a consulate and is instantly moved to a safe house for further interrogation. Why would he return after everything that he's done? He's a traitor, an outlaw, a criminal; and even worse, a man wanted …
review by . February 10, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
In a complicated deadly game of international espionage things are rarely what they appear to be. Take the case of Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds), a young man who, for all intents and purposes, appears to divide his time between his adoring French girlfriend (Nora Arnezeder) and a South African hospital. But if one were to pull back the curtain they would learn that Matt is actually a CIA agent who spends his time watching over a safe house, an assignment of painfully tedious monotony. In the new …
review by . December 13, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Not Original or Innovative, But Definitely Visceral and Action-Packed
There is no question that Denzel Washington is one of the best actors of this generation. The man is enough to draw me out to see a movie in theaters, or at least rent out a movie on Dvd. Washington has pretty much starred in almost every genre, save for romantic movies. I have also seen Washington star in several action movies such as “Man on Fire” and his performance in “Training Day” as a crooked, scary Narc is one for the record books. Sure, his recent movies these days …
review by . February 12, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         It might be a stretch to think of Safe House as a coming of age film, as it’s structured and edited in the same way as an espionage action thriller. True enough, we have car chases, brutal hand-to-hand combat, gunfights, and a plot involving the acquisition and transportation of a secret file, which of course has dangerous international ramifications. But when you narrow in on the lead characters and really focus on their dialogue and actions, …
review by . February 09, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
'Safe House' 'Two Jews On Film' Have Seen It All Before (Video)
         By Joan Alperin Schwartz      Rogue agent Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) has been off the grid for the past ten years and he's been on the CIA'S most wanted list for the last decade.      CIA agent, Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) has been posted to a remote, empty Safe House in Capetown, South Africa for over a year.  He's job is to make sure the Safe House is always ready for 'visitors'. …
Quick Tip by . June 10, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Saw this on my 3 hour flight 2 days ago. A Denzel Washington movie and he did all the stunts himself, apparently. Didn't enjoy as much as his past movies but still reasonably entertaining to see him as a man on the run. A movie about dirty politics and corruptions running across the top American institutions.
About the reviewer
Joseph Belanger ()
Ranked #8
Hello Lunchers. I am a thirty-something guy making his way in Toronto. I am a banker by day and a film critic the rest of the time. Sensitive, sharp and sarcastic are just a few words that start with … more
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