So I ended up seeing Safe House this weekend on a spur of the moment kind of thing. There will be spoilers at some point, but I’ll give a heads up when they come.
So if you’ve seen a trailer for Safe House, you know what the movie is. I mean really, as far as the story goes, no need to see the movie if you’ve seen the trailer. Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) plays a young CIA desk jokey who guards a safe house in Cape Town, South Africa. He’s ambitious because he’s been stuck there for ages and wants to move on. Wouldn’t you know it, Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington), an infamous former CIA agent whose now labeled as a traitor (for no explicit reason), is in their hands and Weston gets to baby sit him (sort of). Frost has information that basically a number of people want, mainly the group of baddies that follow him throughout the movie. Since their’s a leak in the CIA, the baddies break into the safe house, which results in the rest of the movie being Frost and Weston running around trying to figure out what is going on and what to do.
It’s a very simplistic movie. If you’ve seen any action-thrillers like this, which there are plenty of, then you know exactly what happens. Not to sound like an ass, but a moderately intelligent person whose seen a thriller before can figure the whole film out or at least most of it. It’s a very cookie cutter story, with a lot of scenes put in just because it’s part of the template, not because they actually serve any real purpose.
I mean it was pretty easy to figure out Brendan Gleeson was the bad guy. One it’s just because he’s te first other CIA guy talking to Weston and he’s close to him. Means naturally he has to betray that. That and it’s Brendan Gleeson. Between him, Vera Farmiga, and Sam Shepard, I’m betting on Gleeson as the main villain. He’s bad ass. I also follow the theory that the foreign guy is always the bad guy (especially a Brit/Scot/Irish), which goes back to the British actors always playing villains or playing Nazis (which would be the villains) while american actors played the heroes like Indiana Jones. That kind of casting has sort of changed, but when it’s there it’s in movies like this.
I was also disappointed by Denzel’s role. I guess I didn’t really expect anything other than what was given, but I was really hoping he wouldn’t be some antagonist who really isn’t such a bad guy and in the end you really like him a lot, because he’s nice now. I mean they set it up wonderfully, by establishing his background as someone who is superb at manipulating people and you see that initially between Frost in Weston. Frost essentially gives self-fulfilling prophecies for Weston, but they don’t really play with that, because they have him come back in the end and he does get progressively nicer. It would have been refreshing if that had not been the case for once. I mean that change alone would have improved the movie.
There were a number of WTF? moments that I’m willing to ignore. Realism is not to be expected from these movies.
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Anyways, despite the film just being very mediocre as far as the whole set up goes, it was a good film. Safe House is lucky that they did a good job with the action sequences and the car chases. While a lot of those sequences were nothing new or special they were very well done.
They also have a good solid cast. You have a lot of really good names in this movie, especially for bit parts like, Ruben Blades, Robert Patrick, Liam Cunningham and then Sam Shepard, Vera Farmiga, and Brendan Gleeson as the three head CIA folks. those three were decent, but nothing special. Gleeson was actually disappointing, just because it was a small performance for the role, if that makes any sense. Ryan Reynolds was good. It was a nice departure from some of his more well-known other work, but it wasn’t spectacular. I mean Buried is still his best performance as far as I’m concerned. Denzel Washington is really good, but again nothing new or special. You’ve seen this character before in his other films. No one was bad rally, just not anyones best performance or at least nothing new performance wise.
There are however some really dumb spots in this movie. I mean for people who are supposed to be highly intelligent, they are just flat-out dumb at times. I mean I still have a problem with Reynold’s character being able to keep up with Washington, considering how much they hype him up. Which is something I have issue with. The trailers portray him as being the antagonist. He isn’t. All the hype built up even in the trailer about his character just goes away in the film.
I did enjoy the movie I could watch it again on TV or DVD sometime. The movie just suffered from being very unoriginal and being a pretty bad movie in terms of its story, yet they managed to make it entertaining, relying a lot on your interest in seeing Denzel on the big screen (I doubt most were going to see Reynolds).
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