In Safe House, Denzel Washington actually plays the “bad guy,” for once – or so it seems. His character, Tobin Frost, used to work for the CIA, but nine years ago went missing and started selling confidential information and secrets to any foreign governments that would buy them. It is when he turns himself in to the U.S. embassy in Cape Town, South Africa, however, that the story really starts to take off.
Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds, The Change-Up) is a “housekeeper” for a CIA safe house, meaning that he’s in charge when “houseguests” need to stay in the facility. Most of the time, his job is fairly boring: he sits by the phones or plays catch by bouncing a tennis ball off the wall. His girlfriend, Ana (Nora Arnezeder, The Words), doesn’t know what his actual job is – she thinks he works at a clinic. One day, however, Matt receives a call to tell him to prepare for a houseguest who is also very dangerous; the emailed memo he receives says to stay 2 feet away from the guest at all times and avoid eye contact. When the guest is finally brought into the interrogation room in the house, Matt’s jaw drops to the floor when he sees who it is: Tobin Frost, whose reputation precedes him.
Soon after, the safe house is attacked by other “bad guys” who want Tobin dead; Tobin is carrying a tiny microchip with him that they want. All of the CIA officers in the house are killed except Matt, who is standing guard in the interrogation room with Tobin, and Matt and Tobin take off. Matt knows not to trust Tobin, but he is responsible for getting him into CIA custody, and must make sure that Tobin doesn’t try to escape.
This movie has a ridiculous amount of awesome car chase (and car crash) scenes. The camera format makes the movie seem grittier and more “real” than it actually is, as it’s the “shaky format” that some people will probably hate; in my opinion, however, it was fine for most of the scenes in the movie. This film was probably supposed to be more of a star vehicle for Reynolds than Denzel, but it’s Denzel who ends up stealing the show, as usual. Brendan Gleeson (The Guard) and Vera Farmiga (Source Code) have supporting roles as well.
Yes, definitely see this film. Be aware that there is a ton of violence and bloodshed, but that’s to be expected from an “R”-rated action movie. The script in this film, though some may argue to be “formulaic,” was very good, and Reynolds and Denzel have very good “buddy chemistry” together, even though Denzel is trying to escape from his character’s custody for most of the movie. There were a lot of twists that I didn’t see coming, too, especially near the end. I was debating whether to give this film 4 or 4.5 stars out of 5, but ultimately the fine acting throughout merits it a 4.5, one of the best star ratings I have given a film in 2012 thus far.
Safe House is currently in theaters, and is rated R with a runtime of 115 minutes.
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5