Safe House Reviews
All jokes aside, it delivers high octane action enough to please action junkies alike. And with a premise that's somewhat interesting, "Safe House" is (wait for it...) a SAFE BET. LOL, GET IT?
Sorry, now really all jokes aside, you're not going to spot anything new. You're gonna get the shaky cam and the breathless editing; you're gonna get the gritty fisticuff action; you're gonna get the conspiracies and whatnot. So don't come here thinking that this is gonna be something exceeding the likes of the Bourne series. However, it emulates the Bourne series excellently with a surprisingly dynamic relationship between Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) and Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds). So it's an above-average, enjoyable action thriller but a forgettable one.
It isn't that the action isn't fun and that the chase scenes aren't interesting - for they are... and much better than the gratuitous chase scenes that fill so many an action film; and it isn't for lack of a star to make you take notice; for Denzel is at his smooth, glib best here, carrying the slick smile and easy manner that hides his no-nonsense, mess with me and I'll kill ya core.
And yet... somehow you just know that you've seen it all before... rogue agent bucks the system he used to work for, blah blah - yep, Born again Bourne (I've always wanted to print that!!!).
There is some suspense, especially dealing with Denzel's escape from the first trap, and then the subsequent attack on the safe house, but thereafter the film seems rote - and the only thing keeping you guessing is who controls the "other" force trying to get at Denzel, and is there a double agent within the CIA, and if so, who?
Funny thing though, during much of the action and set ups, I found myself asking "is this plausible?" and wondering if the motivations, or the how's and why's made sense - which I guess means that I was interested in what was going on, but that the film did not capture me to the point where I was just rolling along with the action. To the film's credit, much of what I was wondering did get explained, so there weren't a lot of "fill in the plot hole by convenience". About the only real stumble takes place around the soccer stadium - where many a weirdly garbed fan is mulling about outside the stadium... while the game is going on inside! WTF??? Wouldn't these rabid fans be in their seats inside once the contest starts?
But that blunder aside, we get to view some nice cinematography - lighting, angles, and saturation are all quality. Script wise, Denzel's lines are poetry and there is a nice bit of chicanery used to fill in some of the missing points - having the CIA chief demand intel on certain persons of interest while in the war room... of course the film then overuses it, which is just plain lazy.
In all, not a bad film, just not a really good one... entertaining to a point, and with the Denzel factor making it worth recommending... just wonder how I'd think of this without his splendid performance.
That's not necessarily a bad thing either, as there are far worse reference points that director Daniel Espinosa and his crew could have made. Taking place and shot on location in Cape Town, South Africa, this is the story of Matt Weston, a young, inexperienced low-level agent for the CIA who works as the house keeper for one of the agency's many safe houses.
One day, legendary ex-operative turned traitor and international criminal Tobin Frost is brought in after over a decade of evasion. He's taken to Weston's safe house, but, after the place is raided by mercenaries, the pair must band together and go one the run to find out who is after them, and why.
Okay, so aside from the Tony Scott influence, the other major notable thing about this film is that it is a rather routine action thriller. There's an impressive cast that got assembled for this, and they make the best of what they're given to work with, but this really isn't all that remarkable of a movie.
However, it is quite entertaining, the camera work and locations are great, there's plenty of action, and there are two fight scenes in particular that absolutely knock it out of the park in terms of being stunning sequences. They're not quite to the level of what Soderbergh did with Haywire, but they are certainly close to that territory.
Washington really doesn't break new ground as Frost, but he's proven to be quite solid at this sort of thing. Plus, it shows his dedication since he allowed himself to actually be water boarded for the role, if only for just a handful of seconds per take. Reynolds likewise was decently cast even if this isn't one of his best movies. He was decently convincing, and it was fun seeing him go toe to toe with Denzel.
As for the supporting players, we get appearances of varying lengths from Brendan Gleeson, Vera Farmiga, Sam Shepherd, and Ruben Blades among others. They all do okay, but I really hoped they all could have been given some meatier stuff to work with.
All in all, I probably shouldn't rate this movie this high, but I can't help it. It delivers the thrills as expected, it's entertaining, and, like I said, it has two fights scenes in particular that are just incredible.
That in mind who better to use in another serious espionage double cross thriller that looks as if it was directed by Ridley Scott. The film could almost be a sequel to 'Man on Fire' its so similar in terms of plot development, action sequences, locations and the character Washington plays. Well OK its not exactly identical but you can see what I mean.
So we swap the hot humid sweaty conditions of Mexico for the dry heat conditions of South Africa. Washington is an ex-CIA agent turned criminal who gets procession of a disc containing lots of dirty secrets about the CIA and other agencies. Its up to the inexperienced Reynolds to protect him, even though he doesn't really want to.
The whole film plays out as you would expect but unfortunately like too many other films you may have seen. What you get throughout is directed and filmed with outstanding quality and high production values but its not really very original. The action is top notch and certainly so extremely realistic you can taste the tension. A lot of deafening gunfire, fist fights that make you wince, some brutal car chases and crashes and all filmed within highly atmospheric real locations or sets.
So the problem is its just by the numbers and you know its all gonna end in double cross and twists...you just know it!. Without giving the game away there will be a lot of what I just said, but surely you all know that, its common practice in films like this hehe. The plot is simply your basic structured thriller which includes all the basic ingredients that are usually required.
Using some top actors for the main roles of course helps but it doesn't hide its short falls I'm afraid. I'm pretty sure most people will probably deduce what Gleeson is up to and the obvious fact that the top ranking suits in the story are most probably hiding something. Always the same with these high rankings US officials in thriller films.
Ruben Blades has probably the most common role in a film like this, he is an old time friend who Washington's character retreats to in a time of need. There is a small sequence where they reminisce, then they get down to business as 'Frost' requires his help one last time, then of course the bad guys find them in their 'off the beaten track' location and Blades' character is killed. Just as quickly as he is introduced he is killed off, merely a stop gap for the main character to get some vital last minute help and refuel as it were.
If you wanna see some excellent action set pieces then you can't go wrong here. Alas that is all your gonna get really as the plot is chock full of all the regular thriller/espionage cliches that we have all seen before. Its not a bad film, its very very well made, its just old hat. It also seems to try and morph into a 'Bourne' type concept right at the very very end, almost hinting at a sequel which might take Reynolds character into familiar territory.
"No One Is Safe"
Safe House was sort of a disappointment for me. I liked it to an extent, but with a cast like this, and based on the trailer; I expected a lot more. Vera Farmiga and Brendan Gleeson are totally wasted here. Reynolds and Washington are good, but not enough to elevate the movie beyond anything other than average. The movie moves fast and it's got some cool action sequences, but it just didn't do that something extra to make itself something truly special.
This is a movie we've seen many, many times before. They've got someone in custody and now they have to run around with him, without letting him die or get away. It's always a fun story, but the film is too lazy. It never tries to be anything other than average, which is sort of frustrating because this had the potential to be great. Or at least better than it was.
Should you watch it? It really doesn't matter. If you watch it, you'll have decent entertainment. If you don't, you aren't missing anything. Movies like Safe House are starting to get somewhat tiresome and I really wanted to like this, but the way everything unfolds is just too.... standard to warrant anything above calling it merely adequate. There are much better thrillers out there. In fact there are hundreds of better thrillers out there.
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Summary: When men bent on eliminating dangerous criminal Tobin Frost attack the safe house where the CIA has squirreled him away, young operative Matt Weston must find a way to get Frost out alive and relocate him to another, securer location.
My Thoughts: "Dirty politics is the focus of the story with the C.I.A. being in the spotlight. I went back and forth with thinking Frost was a bad guy to he was a good guy. Obviously I won't spoil it. Reynolds and Washington is a great match. I enjoy both actors and thought they brought a great deal of talent to a film that would have suffered without their ability to act their asses off. The story is basically Weston chasing Frost throughout the film. Even though it sounds boring, it's not. There was quite a bit of action making this film worth watching, besides the acting of course. Not a dull moment. Great action thriller if you get the chance to watch it."
Very good film! "Safe House" is a great action thriller with non-stop action. This is the first mainstream feature for Daniel Espinosa and he comes forth as promising due to his skillful camera work with the action scenes. One of the most impressive is the rooftop chase at night. The editing is pitch perfect as it allows the audience to feel the danger of the situation from each point of view. This film could have been bleak and predictable if the leads were miscast but Washington and Reynolds' enigma make the film satisfyingly fun and fresh. It is so very difficult to find new material when you piece together a governmental conspiracy movie. Safe House is able to do it to a point. The greatest success of this movie is the usage of modern film techniques. Too often the bulging budget and ability to edit in effects makes action/thriller movies extremely unrealistic. Safe House does the opposite. It takes all of these techniques and uses them to make the movie raw and real. Go see it!
Tobin Frost is a CIA agent who's believed to have turned rogue, in Capetown, South Africa. When he is pursued by men who want to kill him, he goes to the American Consulate where he knows he will be arrested. When the CIA learns of this, it's decided to bring him to a safe house in Capetown, where they will interrogate him. Shortly after they arrive, the men who chased Frost storm the safe house and kill everyone there. Matt Weston, the agent who's tasked with looking after the safe house, is the only one left, so he takes Frost and they go on the run. While on the run, Frost tells Weston that the only way those men found the safe house was that someone (on the inside) told them about it. Eventually Frost escapes and Weston is told to report to Langley but just as he's about to, he recalls something that Frost did that helps him figure out where he could be going. But just as he arrives, the men who are after Frost show up but Weston saves him and they head off. But Weston knows that Frost is holding something back.