Heather's DVD Review: Safe House
Is it possible to stay alive when there are bullets flying and anyone can be considered a traitor? That's part of the premise behind the DVD release of Safe House, which had some entertaining results but it lacked the element of surprise in the end.
Safe House followed Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) who was a rookie CIA Agent that desperately wanted a job promotion. He was stuck in a dead end position as a keeper of a safe house in Cape Town, South Africa. Matt spent most of his days staring at the walls looking for a little adventure. His boss David Barlow (Brendan Gleeson) promised that Matt would earn his position if he continued to work as hard as he was. Unfortunately, Matt got more than he bargained for when a well-known traitor/former CIA Agent Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) entered the safe house with an ulterior motive in mind. Matt also received the shock of his life when a group of hired killers stormed the safe house with the intent of killing everyone to get to Frost. Matt and Frost decided to become temporary allies in order to find out who was after them. Can they survive long enough to get the truth an not kill each other in the process?
Sadly, viewers had a hard time deciphering the truth in Safe House because the movie took too long to determine what the mystery truly was. Was Tobin Frost truly a bad guy or someone who just lost his way? That remained to be seen because Washington attempted to make Frost someone to root even when he was doing bad things to supposedly good people. Washington took a huge risk in playing the role of a villain, but he ended up playing Frost a little too safe. Washington made a much stronger impression playing the equally twisted corrupt cop in Training Day because he left his inhibitions behind and took a chance that earned him an Oscar. Unfortunately, Washington made the mistake of playing Frost with such a diplomatic approach that made his performance a little too familiar. Hopefully, Washington will choose his next film role a little more carefully and find something that doesn't feel like recycled material from his past movies.
In terms of the plot, Safe House seemed to be taking his cues from the classic film Three Days of the Condor a little too much, but it lacked Condor's tense thrills and breezy charm. Reynolds tried to do his best to a modern day Robert Redford, but he ended up getting lost in the shuffle of the plot a little too quickly. Reynolds spent most of the film trying to keep up with Washington that he left some important pieces of character development behind. The rest of the supporting cast (Gleeson and Vera Farmiga) were basically token characters that had little to do except be locked in a stuffy office with nothing to do but stare at computer screens the whole time. Despite the cast's efforts to surprise viewers, the movie's biggest mistake was the anti-climatic ending when the CIA traitor was revealed because it was obvious from the very start who it was. The real twist would've been making the traitor someone the viewers wouldn't see coming. Now, that would be a surprising worth spending $10 to see on the big, and small, screen.
Verdict: Despite a promising premise, Safe House failed to bring anything truly new to the table. It's a nice way to spend a Saturday night, but you'll quickly forget about it once it's over.
DVD Score: 2.5 out of 5 Stars
Movie Rating: R
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)