Denzel authors another bad ass.
This time it’s Tobin Frost. CIA legend. Frost was a high-profile agent who specialized in interrogation. He later defected and has been on the run and off the grid for nearly a decade. Suddenly he shows up at a US Consolate office and turns himself in.
He’s brought to a CIA safe house run by rookie Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds). When the safe house is breached, Weston is forced to grab Tobin and go on the run.
Let the games begin.
“Safe House” begins at a pretty high level. After a brief period where they establish Reynolds’ character and his situation, Denzel is brought in in cuffs by a CIA interrogation team. As they start to go to work on him however, the safe house is stormed. As shown in the trailer, Denzel talks the confused and nervous Reynolds through his decision tree. Confronted with the situation and Denzel’s logic, Reynolds grabs him and flees. He steals a car, puts Denzel in the trunk, and takes off. A high-speed chase ensues, but once they’re able to evade their pursuers, Reynolds takes Denzel out of the trunk. As Reynolds checks in with his CIA superiors, Denzel begins to figure out the double-crossing that HAS to have taken place.
At this point in the movie, I was really wondering if I was in for an A range movie. Unfortunately, that’s kind of the best part of the movie. Not that “Safe House” is ever BAD per se, but it does get pretty standard at times. Whereas I thought I was getting a Hannibal Lecter / Clarice Starling type mental chess game film, within the context of an action movie. Instead what we got was really a bit of a Jason Bourne lite with some clever moments woven in throughout.
It’s not to demean the movie. I thought it was well done, even though it utilizes the “modern” quick cut shaky cam style of action that creates the action illusion without really creating that much quality action. The action scenes were fine, and there were some really, really cool moments were Denzel is just way too smart. I want to see him facing off against Liam Neeson. In fact, I demand it. Why can’t Hollywood just make that happen? How is it I come up with better ideas than they do?
It’s not bad, it just doesn’t reach its potential. Reynolds is the lead, and that’s wrong. This movie would have been ten times better with just Denzel getting captured, escaping, etc. Focused entirely on him it would be a big improvement. Even if they kept the core story as it was, if they had chosen to tone down the action and focus instead on the betrayal conspiracy and having Denzel work Reynolds through it like a marionette, I think that would have been better. As it is, even though it was decent, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it could have been better. It gives you tantalizing glimpses of what it could have gotten with this cast and this high concept, but then turns around and gives you a movie that feels like a movie you’ve seen a dozen times.
Especially the ending. I’m not going to divulge any spoilers, lets just suffice it to say that I wasn’t very impressed with the film’s third act. Especially the conclusion.
Still, as many people mentioned in this week’s discussion thread, its great to just watch Denzel do his thing. And he does get a handful of really bad ass moments. The action sequences are all good, even though no one will talk about them in two weeks. If the plot had been a little stronger, and they had given us a little more of what we came for, “Safe House” could have been really good.
As it is, I give it a B