Monday, February 13, 2012

Safe House - Movie Review

This one is likely to be a shorter review.  I tend to get lazy about writing reviews about movies that are just so middle of the road.  It's kind of a drag.

Anyway, as the movie poster shows, while this is a 'Safe House', no one is safe. Maybe they should have called this "Unsafe House" then. If nobody is safe in the safe house, then where do you go?  It's madness, I tell you!

You ever notice that the least safest place to be in a movie is a safe house?  It's like having your identity changed.  That just means the wrong person is going to find you.  I'd love it in a movie if a character would freak out once finding out that his destination is a safe house.  "Oh, hell no!  They'll find us for sure!  Take me anywhere but there."

In Safe House you have Matt (Ryan Reynolds), a low level CIA agent that's the "housekeeper" for a safe house in South Africa.  As the safe house is rarely used, Reynolds is bored and wants to have some real action and experience.  He gets his wish when a notorious, ex-CIA agent, Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington), is brought in for interrogation.  Frost recently turned himself in after acquiring some secret files that make him the target of some mercenaries.

As you'd expect, the safe house is hit almost immediately by the mercenaries trying to get to Frost.  Despite there being obvious bottle necks and choke points in the safe house, the entire CIA team is killed, leaving Matt to escape with Frost.  What's their objective?  To get to another safe house!  Um, yeah, sounds like a good idea.  I'm sure they will be totally fine at a different safe house.

Frost then starts to play psych games to get into Matt's head and makes several attempts to flee on his own.  Frost points out to Matt that there must be a traitor in the CIA that's leaking their location.  Of course there's is.  You can't have a movie like this without a traitor.

You're watching this movie mainly for Denzel's performance as Frost.  While he's good here, I kind of felt like he was phoning it in a bit.  Denzel does a role like this in his sleep.  Plus, he's played the same role before in better movies.

Ryan Reynolds performance was fine, but it seemed like half the movie he looked like he was about to cry.  That's another one of my issues with the movie.  It seemed like there was too much melodrama in an action movie.  I'm sure they were trying to be 'smart' by having some emotion, but it just didn't seem necessary.  

Brendan Gleeson, who's one of my favorite actors, is in this just to play a cookie-cutter character.  You know almost from the beginning of the movie how his character is going to play out.  The rest of the cast is actually pretty good, so it feels like a waste.  Safe House is very cliched from beginning to end.  As a result, I found myself not really caring about anything that was going on.

The action sequences are actually pretty good for the most part, especially Ryan Reynolds' fight scenes.  There are some decent car chases sequences as well.  However, I found Denzel's fight scenes to be edited poorly.  It's funny how a movie like Haywire makes you hyper aware of when a fight scene is shot in a way to cover for an actor that doesn't fight all that well.  They have to hide it with stuff like shaky cam work and quick cuts. 

Safe House was written by David Guggenheim and directed by Daniel Espinoza.  Both are relative newcomers and it feels like it.  There's a reason this movie is released in mid-February instead of during the summer.

Safe House is another movie that's very mediocre.  It has a good cast, is acted well and has some decent action, but it doesn't do anything new or original.  It's not a bad movie, but it's instantly forgettable.  Even now, I'm having a hard time remembering anything specific about the film.  There are better movies available to see, so I'd save this one for a rental.

2.5 (out of 5) Death Stars.

1 comment:

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