Safe House – 3/5 Movie Reviews by Ry!

Safe House – 3/5 – Spy Thrillers; they are a dime a dozen. When it comes to these movies, you’ll get your standard action scenes, bombastic usage of spies, agents and espionage, as well as a twist that you’ll see or not see coming. The movie Safe house is one that falls in the litter of all typical spy thrillers. You have all the elements to make this film entertaining, but nothing that really stands out at capturing wits, wills or anything strong. Here, you get your average thriller with a couple of standout performances, with twist that fall flat in the end

The movie follows a man by the name of Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds). He is a CIA rookie who is manning a safe house in Cape Town, South Africa. Eventually, his safe house becomes the place of residence for Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington). He is one of the CIA’s most wanted rogue agent. During Frost’s interrogation, the safe house is overtaken by mercenaries who want Frost dead. Weston and Frost escape and must stay out of the gunmen’s sight until they can get to another safe house. Along the way, information becomes available and the truth becomes relevant about if Frost is truly the enemy or not. So, to start, the main characters of Weston and Frost are played by Reynolds and Washington respectfully. When it comes to their characters, they are superbly played by them. Raymond brings an awe-struck kind of feeling to his role. You can tell that all the events that happen are vividly new to him as he reacts like any rookie would to events like these. He is raw, emotional and you feel a sense of growth from the beginning to the end in his character. That growth is worth following, and are one of the strong points in the film. Denzel, however, does his role well and goes beyond like any great actor does. He is playing a ‘rogue’ agent, and he plays it to the teeth. He is gritty and calculated, and everything he does is precise and on point. You never really know his motives till the end, but you feel purpose when he is on-screen, no matter if it is in his actions against the CIA or with how he speaks his words to Reynolds. The chemistry between these two is also another strong point in the movie. You like the layered dynamic they have, and the moral and ethical issues they have to deal with (Trust, Betrayal, and believing what is right). Outside of these two, nothing else stands out. All the other characters are so thin and poorly executed; you just wanted them not to talk at all. Stiff as a board, they all felt like they were placements of plot points. Most the time, this isn’t as bothersome because the plot itself can hide these weaknesses, but when the acting is supposed to standout in a movie like this, you’re disappointed.

When it comes to direction, it is pretty sloppy in the first third of the movie. You have a very shaky, over the top action sequence that quickly leads to capture of Frost, and the interrogation at the safe house. Along with this, you add in the random scenes from the CIA, and the suspicion behind Frost’s motives in the beginning. What this develops into is way too many layers with no description. This convoluted mess is obvious because you see it trying to be hidden by the action scenes, and the over abundance emphasis on them. Once you get pass the safe house scene, you start to see a singular ‘real; direction to the film, and you become attached to the two main character as you watch the story progress. By the end, you see that supposed ‘great’ reveal last acts development, but the staleness of the direction makes the film’s end with a bad taste. The badness is in how the twist felt force-fed, and you really couldn’t buy the true nature of the themes. As stated earlier, there is a heavily reliance on action scenes, this is an issue because it drowns out some of the dramatic elements of the movie, making them feel like a bad added flavor to a cake. It wasn’t needed. With all these strikes in direction, it does hurt the overall development of the film.

The cinematography is pretty astounding, and it’s the only thing that seems creative and somewhat intuitive. The filming is very bright lit, and you see a grainy texture that makes you feel part of the story, as well as part of the CIA portions. This keeps you engaged, and helps you get through the sloppy beginning. No score to speak of, since it was very subtle and underused.

Overall, this movie does entertain, but has plenty of flaws and bad direction. Outside the great performance by Reynolds and Washington, there is bad acting, a horrible beginning and an obvious but clichéd kind of ending. Everything placed to move the story, from the side characters to certain action scenes, felt very convenient with a lack of creative depth to thrill. I would recommend a rental, and maybe an add to your collection if you’re a fan of either actor.

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