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Safe House – Review

Safe House Review
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.

Safe House Review
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.

Rating: B-

Also See: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Review, War Horse Review

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4 Comments »

  • Sheridan Passell said

    Sounds like a decent rental. Even if it’s 50% as good as Training Day, it’ll be worth checking out. Denzel is fantastic as a villain.

    I would argue that the John Myers character played an important role in Hellboy. He was removed from Hellboy 2 and that movie was worse in almost every respect – total coincidence?

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    • Paul Martin said

      Hellboy 2 worse in almost every respect? Well, it’s a point of view, I suppose. Myers was a token sop to ‘let’s get a guy in here who the audience can relate to’, detracting from the characters from the source comics (Abe Sapien was especially diddled of screen-time in film one). Hellboy II was flawed definitely (the pasty-faced elves – who cares?), but it unleashed more of that GDT creature-creating flair and a greater flavour of the comic than the first film.

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    • gd smith said

      Hellboy had a stronger set of villains and the cool WWII origins of stuff. Number 2 was not that bad, but it lacked the freshness.

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      • Sheridan Passell said

        I really liked Hellboy a lot. For me, Hellboy 2 was an indulgent, meandering movie that lacked the same charm. It felt like the whole story was constructed on the fly to accommodate Del Toro’s latest creature sketches.

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