Safe House – Review8.02.12 # Review # 4 Comments
Our Safe House Review.
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Starring: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson
Release Date: US – 10th Feb / UK – 24th Feb
Ooh, look! A new Denzel Washington movie! And it’s one of those slick action-thrillers the D-Man (too familiar?) has made rather a speciality of over the years, most often the directorial stewardship of Tony Scott. No Tone this time out, as hungry young Swede Daniel Espinosa instead wields the golden megaphone of power, but Denzel can console himself with a brand new co-star to shove around – in the shape of Scarlett Johansson’s sexiest ex-husband, Ryan Reynolds.
Actually, it’s Reynolds rather than Washington who is the central figure in Safe House, and therein lies in an immediate shortcoming. For Denzel, equipped for most of the movie with a resplendent silver-flecked ‘fro, is playing Tobin Frost, an ex-CIA agent on the constant lam from his old bosses and who can snap another man’s neck as easily as a dairy cow can pump out a trump from between its butt-cheeks. Rye-Ray, meanwhile, plays a secret service rube named Matt Weston, and yes, his name is probably the most interesting thing about him.
So while Washington simply demands your attention every time he strolls on-screen as the cocksure killer, the closely-cropped Reynolds comes over about as compelling (or not) as a beefcake who’s lost his gym locker key… oh no, wait, he’s found it. Wow, that was an interesting diversion, wasn’t it?
Although the parent movies are wildly different, Reynolds’ Weston is reminiscent of John Myers in the first Hellboy film: a dull distraction from a batch of characters being diddled out of their due share of the limelight. Because while an utterly ace supporting cast has been assembled in the service of Safe House – exemplified by the power trio of Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson and Sam Shephard as the three CIA higher-ups always one step behind that scoundrel Tobin Frost – too little screen-time is devoted to the secondary characters, they continuously losing out to yet another shot of Reynolds looking as confused as Joey Tribbiani trying to figure out the ending of Shutter Island.
True, the action is pacey and punchy enough, the South African settings make a change from the good ol’ US of A, and it certainly is fun to watch Washington play a guy whose first instinct when left alone with the greenhorn Weston is to try and throttle him to death. But there’s very little substance here, with the central conspiracy in particular feeling tacked on and unimaginative.