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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: July 7: Safe House

Saturday

July 7: Safe House

"A young CIA agent is tasked with looking after a fugitive in a safe house. But when the safe house is attacked, he finds himself on the run with his charge."
Directed by: Daniel Espinosa, Rated: R, 115 minutes

There is really nothing original about Safe House. Every twist and turn in the story is predictable right out of the gate and turns the movie more into a series of strung together action sequences, removing all suspense and thrill. Sure, it all looks nice and those action scenes are filmed rather well, but when you have the same run-of-the-mill everything, it's hard to really enjoy the movie as something fresh and "game-changing". However, I honestly would watch anything that Ryan Reynolds is in and it is fun watching him kick a lot of ass as a "secret agent". He has a lot of range in his acting and seeing him do something completely different is a nice change of scenery. I really can't think of any moment in Safe House where Reynolds actually cracks a joke or even smiles really.

He's trying, dammit!

Safe House follows Matt Weston (Reynolds), a young CIA agent who's trying very hard to be more than just a measly little safe house keeper and actually work in the field. His superior, David Barlow (Brendan Gleeson), promises Weston that he's close to getting promoted and to just wait it out a little longer. Of course, sitting around a safe house with Reynolds for 90 minutes wouldn't be the most action-packed movie. Thus, enter Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington), an ex-CIA specialist, now a most wanted criminal. Frost is brought to Weston's safe house until he can be extradited to the United States. But, within minutes of his arrival, the house is attacked and the only thing Weston can do is take Frost on the run with him, eluding capture by the bad guys and finding another safe haven to lay low. Weston figures this is his chance to show the big guys up top at the CIA that he has what it takes to be a field agent and swears to bring Frost in himself. However, Frost tells Weston that there may be a compromise in the CIA (surprise, surprise) and that he has the evidence to prove it. Thus, a game of wits ensues, and as an audience, you're trying to figure out if Frost is telling the truth or not, right alongside Weston. Unfortunately for Safe House, this plot "twist" has been used way too many times and makes for a rather uninteresting ride. 

The same twist also featured in every season of 24. Every. Single. One. 

Even with its massive flaws, Safe House does still provide some forms of entertainment. The action is tight, brutal, and filmed very well, and each beat-down and shoot out is very reminiscent of the Bourne films (although, what action isn't anymore?). Reynolds does a fine job as Weston and he's certainly determined and even built enough to be believable as a man who can kick ass. He's rough around the edges, as is any fresh-out-of-the-farm agent, but still manages to not only dish out some woop-ass, but takes a hell of a beating as well. Denzel Washington adds very little to the movie as Frost, a character not as developed or even as sinister as you'd think the villain should be. I feel his presence is strictly for his name and that his performance, while solid, is a weaker rendition of his usual badass self. Safe House also features a handful of other great actors including Vera Farmiga, Sam Shepherd, Liam Cunningham, Robert Patrick, Joel Kinnaman, and the previously mentioned Brendan Gleeson,  but none of them are on screen long enough to really be game changers. 

And while I f**king love this man, his American accent is atrocious. 

I would neither recommend or tell you to skip Safe House. It's fine where it is, in the in between, as it really doesn't elevate to great levels nor does it fall into the shit. For the most part, it's an action film with a whole lot of energy and is pretty fun to watch. However, with a script as unoriginal and unimaginative as it is, Safe House really struggles at being more than just those action sequences. Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington both give fine performances (with Reynolds actually out-acting Denzel), but the characters they inhabit lack the depth to make them all that interesting. It's also worth pointing out that Safe House is about the seventh film for Denzel that focuses way too much on having a blue and orange color palette, making everything he does just blend into one colorful mess. 

Why so orange, Mr. Washington?

Oh yeah, that's why. 

The Good:
Ryan Reynolds showing us that he can dish out a beating as well as take one, and that he's more than just a smooth-talking jokester
The Bad:
a script that's so predictable you can't even attempt to ignore it (hopefully that's not just me watching too many movies)
The Ugly:
that same script destroying an otherwise enjoyable movie that really had the potential to be something more than just your regular, average day action flick

Overall: 6.2/10

Trailer:
Re-watch? Maybe
Buy? No

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4 Comments:

At July 8, 2012 at 2:25 PM , OpenID dtmmr said...

It’s a serviceable thriller that should satisfy those late winter cravings from action fans who haven’t seen enough bullets and fists flying onscreen. Nothing special but Reynolds and Washington make it better than it has any right to be. Good review Nick.

 
At July 8, 2012 at 2:47 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Serviceable thriller...

why couldn't I think of that? lol... that's the perfect way to describe it

 
At September 20, 2012 at 5:33 AM , Anonymous Cori said...

ARGH the blue and the orange! Unwatchable.

 
At September 20, 2012 at 9:36 AM , Blogger Nick said...

Denzel's favorite color scheme.

 

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