Sunday, June 24, 2012

Safe House (2012)

Directed By: Daniel Espinosa
Starring: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard

Ryan Reynolds stars as Matt Weston, the low-ranking CIA field operative who is eagerly trying to prove his worth to his superiors.  Weston is tasked with a mundane job of being the caretaker of a CIA "Safe House" in Capetown, South Africa. After a rogue former CIA agent named Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) turns himself in to the American Consulate, he is brought to the Safe House for interrogation by the CIA. The safe house is then raided by an unknown criminal force in an attempt to get to Frost. Weston takes custody of Frost and must get him to another safe house without the both of them getting killed. Weston also must try to figure out who the inside source is who has betrayed him. At one point in the plot, it is revealed that the reason why the "bad guys" are trying to kill Frost is because has secret documents in his possession that can bring down not only the leaders of the CIA, but also the leaders of every other world agency involved with them.

David Espinosa's spy/action thriller, Safe House might as well be entitled "The Bourne- Whatever." While the idea for the movie is good, and it contains an A-List cast, this film is nothing but 115 minutes of a lot of guys trying to kill two other guys, with little or no narrative cohesion. Washington and Reynolds virtually have little "acting" time together; their scenes have the pair doing a lot of running, jumping, fighting, shooting, and stabbing, but their dialogue is limited at best.

Despite Weston not having amnesia (or being an assassin), this film is Bourne-influenced in every way...from the grainy, handheld photography to the chaotic hand-to-hand combat in foreign locales, and the break-neck car chases.  The only thing missing from this film is Matt Damon (or Jeremy Renner.)  The existence of possible sinister government forces and the juxtaposition between their conference room scheming and Weston’s visceral fight for survival echoes all the trademarks of The Bourne Trilogy.  Swap Joan Allen for Vera Farmiga, and   Brian Cox for Brendan Gleeson, and lo and behold- you have Safe House. 

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