Sunday, February 19, 2012

Safe House

Year: 2012
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Cast: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard, Nora Arnezeder

Plot: Rogue CIA agent Tobin Frost surrenders himself to the American Embassy in Cape Town and is subsequently transferred to a safe house run by low level agent Matt Weston. When the safe house is attacked, Weston is forced to take Frost on the run, evading their attackers while trying to figure out how the house was compromised. But Frost isn't the kind that wants to play along.

Review: I like films that pulls no punches with its grittiness and violence, and Safe House is that kind of film. Director Daniel Espinosa keeps Safe House running at a smooth pace, not allowing the film to dwell too much on time wasting scenes. The grainy shades of the film also helps in reflecting the sunnier and sometimes darker scenes in the film, giving it an extra edge.

Denzel hasn't given a bad performance in my memory, and here he is just as good as the mysterious Tobin Frost. Whether he's a good guy or a bad guy, we'll only know at the end, but Denzel makes it work thanks to his great screen presence. However the film is mostly taken from Ryan Reynolds' point of view. As Weston, Reynolds plays the rookie agent who finally gets the opportunity he's been waiting for to shine, though he never expected it to be this hard. It's nice to see him playing it dead serious here, because Reynolds tends to take characters with one liner comedy chops. Depending on the next roles he takes, Reynolds is gonna be a big star someday, if he isn't yet.

The other supporting stars do their jobs well, but it's Denzel and Ryan that we focus on most of the time, as we watch them fight, shoot and take part in car chases throughout the film. Ryan in particular gets a brutal fist fight with another agent in the film's climax, which was very convincing and painful to behold.

The film is not without its flaws though. The last act becomes quite predictable for the most part. The proverbial snake in the grass is easy to guess, and the final few scenes are rather familiar, I've seen them being used in other films. But on the whole, Safe House is a lot of fun to watch, thanks to its two leads and the unflinching violence on display.

Note: Loved the Kanye-Jay Z rap song during the film's credits. It's called No Church In The Wild. (4/5)

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