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Douglas Young (the-movie-guy)
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A fast-paced race against time featuring an experienced mentor and an up-and-comer.
WEEKLY MOVIE REVIEW: SAFE HOUSE
MINI-REVIEW: A fast-paced race against time featuring an experienced mentor and an up-and-comer.
RATING: Wait for the instant download (Rating System: "See it in theaters," "Wait for the instant download," "Don't waste your time."
Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) is a green CIA agent looking to make his transition from ordinary agent to field agent. He is stuck with the boring job of sitting in a "safe house" - a secret location for detaining prisoners ("house guests") until they can be moved to a more secure location.
Things are pretty boring until Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) is brought it. Frost is a notorious double agent known for his ability to evade capture. No sooner is Frost secured in Weston's safe house than a bunch of bad guys storm the place to capture Frost. Weston takes charge and ushers Frost out of the building. Weston wants to get Frost to a new safe house but he is nagged by the question of how the bad guys knew where to find Frost there must be a mole in the CIA. Now Weston must deliver Frost, discover Frost's secret, and expose the CIA mole before they find him. And we're off
"Safe House" uses the device of the mature, older, agent as mentor to push the Weston character to look at himself and ask hard questions: Is this the life I want? Will I ever have a decent relationship? Who can I ever really trust?
Denzel Washington walks effortlessly through the role of Tobin Frost. He manipulates Weston by forcing him to think about things that, as a younger man, Frost had to confront himself. I haven't seen Washington in a movie in a long time. I was pleasantly surprised to see the actor that I remembered from such fine movies as "Philadelphia" and "Crimson Tide." He was just as good as ever, and had mellowed with age.
Ryan Reynolds held his own against Washington, playing the younger, inexperienced agent who learns fast. Reynolds has had a lot of screen time recently in such movies as "Green Lantern," "The Proposal," and "The Change Up." He usually plays a comic character which is appropriate as he holds a comic resume ("Van Wilder," and TV's "Two Guys, A Girl, and a Pizza Place.") Here, he plays a full-on action hero to Washington's more experienced mentor.
The dynamic between these two players is exciting to watch. There is no apparent competition on-screen (which is so often the case when mega- personalities come together). Instead, there is a wonderful creative collaboration that results in an entertaining action flick.
Sadly, the surrounding plot is pretty predictable and does not support the two players. The action is acceptable, but the real movie is about the older, wiser man guiding the younger man. Perhaps it isn't just the characters who are playing out the mentor/mentee relationship, but the actors as well.
So, for a predictable action/spy plot with two fine actors playing their roles perfectly, I can only recommend that you wait for the instant download.
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