Review: Safe House
Denzel is quite the talented actor to the point that he could be the worst person around, and we would still love him to death. Such as the case in Training Day, and the viewers of Safe House will be told that his character Tobin Frost is indeed another bad guy. However, all of his mannerisms, his bravado and his Denzel-isms make us just love him that much more. Surprisingly though, Ryan Reynolds is incredibly good opposite a superior actor of Denzel's stature. The film shines on the interactions between the two, and boy do they shine. Reynolds has taken some heat as of late for his ability to take roles that are essentially, well, Ryan Reynolds. He is a very likable, cocky, smart-mouthed good looking guy in all of his films, which isn't a bad thing but that does not make him a top notch actor. Reynolds trades in all of those mannerisms for a very tight lipped performance that works very well and is easily his best work thus far. Certainly, working side by side with Denzel Washington brought up his game, but now it makes me wish that Denzel would do more movies with actors that we are being forced into thinking as top notch movie stars (Yes, I am looking at Robert Pattinson, Shia LaBeouf, Daniel Radcliffe and so on.)
The film follows the two central characters, Tobin Frost (Washington) and Matt Weston (Reynolds). Frost is on the run from men that are hunting him down as he is in possession of highly sensitive information. Weston is in charge of a safe house in the nearest area, and before Frost comes into his home, he constantly pleads with his bosses for some field experience. Boy did he get his wish and then some. When Frost is brought in to the safe house, the tension kicks up immediately. Frost is a ex-CIA operative who went rogue but is still looked at as a legend among other CIA members. The higher ups in Langley send operatives to interrogate Frost to find out why he had resurfaced. Frost however, does not speak and goads the operatives. When the torture is about to get worse, the lights in the safe house go out and the hit men that were previously hunting Frost down are now back on his trail. The hit men break into the safe house with ease and take out the operatives with ease. Weston is then forced to take matters into his own hands as he and Frost go on the run. The longer the two are together the more Frost begins to toy with Weston, shaking the very foundations that he lives by.
The film hinges on the performances given by Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington. In lesser hands, the film will fall straight on it's face as the script is often too predictable and the car chase sequences are a bit laughable. Ultimately, the film's action sequences and overall tone will remind most of the Bourne saga with the constant jump cuts from the main characters to Langley fielding phone calls on the agents that have gone rouge. The interactions between Denzel and Reynolds may remind some of Training Day. Reynolds does a fantastic job in his role as Matt Weston. He trades in the signature wink or smirk for a tight lipped performance that works very well. His ability to play the role of a naive do-gooder is what shines, and is a very nice comeback from his last mistake (looking at you Green Lantern.) You can see how freaked out he is by the situation he is forced to deal with and even more so when he begins to wonder if Frost's claims are true.
Denzel, of course, does a terrific job of walking that fine line of being a good guy/bad guy. His shear ability to convey emotions with a plain face is amazing. Often he is chained up in the film forced to hear Reynolds' battling for his life, and in fact his own all at once, and yet despite the urgency of the situation he just sits there. Sitting there with his head cocked to the left with a calm confidence. The film is incredibly entertaining because of Reynolds and Denzel but falters due to the first time write David Guggenheim and director Daniel Espinosa. Granted, the film was not filmed in the best of areas so the director was possibly trying to capture a bit of the scenery with a grainy picture. However, this style became too much of a distraction in crucial moments. One in particular when Frost and Weston are having a heart to heart that the close up on Denzel is so grainy to the point where you'd think the shot was going to pan out and reveal you were watching it on a old television set. Despite the predictable ending and how obvious the villain's are, it is still a fun action packed film that does more good than bad thanks to superb performances from it's lead actors.