Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) is a CIA rookie who is manning a safe house in Cape Town, South Africa, when Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) the CIA's most wanted rogue agent is captured and taken to the safe house. During Frost's interrogation, the safe house is overtaken by mercenaries who want Frost. Weston and Frost escape and must stay out of the gunmen's sight until they can get to another safe house.Written by
Douglas Young (the-movie-guy)
"Safe House" is an action packed thriller about a lone rookie CIA agent attempting to 'escort' his high profile prisoner back to CIA headquarters. If this brings to mind the classic films "The Gauntlet" (Clint Eastwood), "Midnight Run" (Di Nero) or even "Silence of the Lambs" (Anthony Hopkins), then you know what I'm talking about when I say "great story". Similarly the acting is fantastic; you can't go wrong with Denzel Washington who has a way of raising the bar for all actors on a production. My one big problem, as a couple other reviewers mentioned, was the jarring, unnecessarily shaky camera and rapid fire edits that upstage the power of this film.
Ryan Reynolds plays the rookie "Matt" who's basically just a housekeeper at a CIA safe house in Cape Town, South Africa. One day they bring in "Frost" (Denzel Washington) who is basically James Bond with a bad attitude. One thing leads to another, bodies pile up, and Matt finds himself attempting to bring in Frost all by himself, despite a few armies of thugs & spies hot on their trail.
What makes this film work, much like in "Silence of the Lambs" is the dynamic between the fresh faced rookie and the wise Mr. Miagi prisoner. As events unfold, we see a pupil/teacher relationship develop even though the teacher is supposedly the bad guy. Ryan Reynolds, just like Jodie Foster in Lambs, pulls this off perfectly by seeming young & inexperienced without seeming stupid. On the teacher side we have the excellent Denzel Washington who, just like Anthony Hopkins, conveys a magnetic aura of authority and control, even though he's the one in handcuffs (or in Lambs, a restraining hockey mask). Of course "Safe House" is more of a fast paced action flick than the slow psychological "Silence of the Lambs", and that leads me to my criticism.
This is just a personal opinion, but I feel like the hyper chaotic camera work and ADD edits killed a great opportunity for a powerful presentation. Note to directors: when you have a colossus like Denzel Washington in front of the camera, just tell your camera man to chill. Tell the gang in the editing room to put down the scissors. Just let the talent speak for itself.
Instead--I'm not exaggerating here--I started counting at least 1 cut every 2 seconds. And even when the camera was given more time, it would be constantly shaking, zooming in & out, darting about the room like a paranoid crack addict looking for a Starbucks caffè latte. I realize that this was a conscious stylistic choice, and definitely this chaotic style works to elevate bad productions to passable. But when your underlying material is GOOD, then why distract the audience with camera theatrics?
Ok I'm done with my opinion. Back to the facts. This is a good movie. It has a great story. These are great actors. Regardless of how you prefer your cameras & edits, it's worth checking out.
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