'Safe House' has solid performances with Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds

'Safe House' has realistic action sequences and delivers an old premise in a fresh way.

Jasin Boland/HONS/Universal Pictures/AP
'Safe House' has solid performances by stars Ryan Reynolds (pictured) and Denzel Washington.

As soon as the credits started to roll, I thought to myself ‘That was a surprisingly good film’, going into Safe House I didn’t expect it to be good. I expected it would be a decent and fun affair; a good way to pass the afternoon, as it turned out it was a lot more than that.

The film is about one of the CIA’s most wanted men, Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington), he seems to have acquired something that some very bad men want. Being on the run and seeing he has no other choice, he walks into the South African US embassy. The CIA aren’t taking this lightly, and send him off for interrogation at a ‘safe house’, one looked after by Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds). Before long, the place gets raided and Weston steps up to the plate in order to do the right thing and get Frost out of there. The pair are on the run, there is no trust between the men and what Frost is holding is of high value. A cat and mouse game follows …

Safe House is an action/thriller, it is fast paced for the most part and it certainly contains a level of seriousness that I didn’t expect. It has some crazy action but they definitely tried something different with it, and instead of having people be invincible to bullets and punches, people got hurt and the action was delivered in a little more of a realistic way than we’re used to. While some of the twists you might see coming, the action aspect isn’t at all predictable and some of it is a little shocking. Some if the set pieces are really well handled, and the chase scenes are nicely done.

On the other side of the fence, this was a pretty decently acted film. Denzel always delivers, he is great here, he’s a mysterious character and he never over sells it. Everything we need to know about him is established, and he plays it spot on. The biggest surprise though was Ryan Reynolds, he’s always been an actor that I do like but I can’t take him seriously. He’s usually the comedic guy, and even in something a little serious, there is always some kind of humor there. But this was all gone in Safe House, this was serious Reynolds and I gotta say the dude has the chops! He was really good, he played it straight, and he gave us a sympathetic and engrossing character. Side plays like Vera Farmiga and Brendan Gleeson are fine, they come in and do their thing. Run of the mill roles, but they filled them just fine.

Safe House on paper isn’t really anything new, the story has been told before. But it has been told in a solid and fresh way here, it is an enjoyable and entertaining film, and much better than I had expected. It strengths shine through, and its weaker parts are apparent but they don’t ruin anything. It perhaps could have been a little tighter with pacing, but they got it right where it counted. A solid directorial effort by Daniel Espinosa, and a decent script by David Guggenheim.

Marcella Papandrea blogs at Killer Film.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.