SAFE HOUSE (18)
Release Date: 9 February 2012
Running Time: 115 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures via United International Pictures
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Screenplay: David Guggenheim
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Denzel Washington, Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Robert Patrick
Plot: Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds star in the action-thriller Safe House. Washington plays the most dangerous renegade from the CIA, who comes back onto the grid after a decade on the run. When the South African safe house he's remanded to is attacked by mercenaries, a rookie operative (Reynolds) escapes with him. Now, the unlikely allies must stay alive long enough to uncover who wants them dead. REVIEWS AFTER THE JUMP
Review: One thing that makes “Safe House” a reasonable movie to watch is the fact that we have Denzel Washington in it. Washington is a reliable actor who possessed some of the most valuable star attraction in the movies he was in. This time in “Safe House”, he joined Ryan Reynolds in this new action thriller that revolves once again – the CIA. With the guidance of Swedish director, XX, will “Safe House” presents itself as a viable movie as a whole or just merely a wasted product despite having some great talents ensemble behind the camera?
In this movie, we learn that Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) is a former CIA agent turned rogue years ago who now appears on the top list of most wanted for his activities involving selling state secrets and illegal espionage. He arrives at Cape Town, South Africa to retrieve high valuable information from one of his informant – but is quickly to find himself in a very difficult situation of being hunted by an anonymous group on the streets of Cape Town. Out of desperation to cut loose from his chasers, he decides to turn himself to the United States Embassy and quickly allowing himself been apprehended by the CIA.
While waiting for the extraction procedure to extradite Frost back to the country, Frost is temporarily placed in a CIA safe house under the care of Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds). Matt is a rookie CIA field agent entrusted of ‘housekeeping’ job. Unfortunately, the safe house is not a safe place after all as the ‘house’ is quickly ambushed and raided by the same anonymous group that tails Frost earlier. Matt is now left with no choice and decides to grab his ‘guest’ for an escape plan. While the duo escape around the country, they learn more about the information Frost was initially supposed to retrieve which there contain some dark secrets from the past.
In the first glance, “Safe House” looks similar to any other standard thrillers around by playing close to the supposed formulaic structures. Unwillingly, it plays the story too safe and too close to its own chest, thus depriving the movie with an excellent sense of creativity in it. That simply makes “Safe House” a little cliché and the plot is thin on its surface. The movie is cliché because I have developed almost the entire possibilities on how this movie will be heading to and oh boy, I am almost entirely correct. It could have been the script writers fault not to avoid it has been too predictable or yet been less on depth.
As it turns out to be, the thin-razor plot exploitation only works superficially that results in nothing more than a classic cat-and-mouse game for the characters to play around with some intense actions to fill in the between.For the first half of the movie, “Safe House” sets up with mediocrity as it has an equal share of amazing action-packed scenes inserted with a little information throwback as an exchange. However, as the movie progresses to the final half, that same movie burns the entire story too quickly. Possibly because of the predictability but I suspect that it is entirely because it offers not enough exciting punches to deliver a better or yet a smarter story to the audiences. Instead, it relies on capitalizing the as always great performance by Denzel Washington to drive this.
Do not get me wrong, if there are things to make “Safe House” to be larger-than-reality, it would be the castings. The plot is neither interesting nor given much depth, but the same cannot be said to Denzel. Denzel is a reliable actor. Although he is sort of like the same-dimensional and all round performer, he offers himself as the niche eye-gluing character throughout the movie. His characters develop into such that the question about his motive can keep on going for most of the time. Reynolds on the other hand offers a slicker, cleaner and more naivety in his character – a total around from his bad boy or sex icon symbols at all. I say he does better than who he is in Green Lantern.
If there is another aspect that captures my attention for this movie, that would be the camera work and cinematography. It seems choppily-edited and fuzzy camera work around this movie but once you realize that most of the action scenes reminiscent those form the Bourne Trilogy, I tell you why. The cinematographer worked in that Paul Greengrass’ trilogy and this time lending the almost similar effect into highlighting the action why increasing the intensity. For most part, these work out pretty well. Count how many times you get your actors talking in the car about something but only to be abruptly closed with a bang on their car from another car? Shocked? Heart attack?
“Safe House” never raises the bar or the standard that challenges other similar-themed action thrillers. Instead, it plays too safe with lack of expansion ability beyond its comfort zone of predictability, while also have a boost from some decent castings. “Safe House” makes use of its dizzying cinematographic works wisely to heighten the intensity of the pace, at least that is what they can do.