Safe House is a fun, but ultimately pointless spy thriller that is more big action sequences than necessarily being the “mystery thriller” it wants to be. This movie hinges on the chemistry between its two leads Denzel Washington (Tobin Frost) and Ryan Reynolds (Matt Weston). On paper it seems like a weird pairing but it works surprisingly well.
Denzel is appropriately grizzled throughout most of the film as the bitter, ex CIA agent who now makes a living selling secrets to the highest bitter. At the beginning of the movie he comes across the ultimate file and a hit is put out on him. After escaping his pursuers he is captured and taken to a Safe House. The empty and never used Safe House is run by CIA young’n Matt Weston. From the moment Frost enters the house he’s playing mind games on everyone there.
Writer David Guggenheim tries to build a story of mystery and intrigue but the material does a fairly poor job of actually being “mysterious.” It is painfully obvious who that there is a mole as Tobin suspects and who that mole is. For Weston to deny the obvious makes him look foolish.
The main issue with Safe House is Director Daniel Espinosa staging of fighting scenes is a pale imitation of The Bourne Series (and I loathe the fighting in that series), it’s not as shaky as Bourne, but it’s still all quick cuts and close ups so it’s hard to make out what’s going on half the time. I also did not like the general look of the movie. The muted colors and soft lighting made the movie look grimier than the material really called for.
Reynolds really has come a long way as an actor. Yes, he is basically the “same” in every movie but he’s picking better parts and he works well with Denzel. But at some point can he get beyond playing the new “kid” on the block? He’s getting a bit too old to be playing this type of role. He’s more of a “mid-career guy” at this point. While they explained Weston was at the top of his CIA class, the fact that he was able to handle himself so well in the field (without any experience) just seemed odd.
While the movie does have issues, the star power of the two leads ultimately elevates this sometimes-tired material.
Final Grade C+