Denzel’s safe hands deliver again

February 16th, 2012

This article is more than 11 years old.

You shouldn’t really name your film Safe House if your poster tagline is “No-one is safe”. But apart from that little criticism, there isn’t much to complain about. Daniel Espinosa’s action thriller fulfils all the requirements of this genre – it’s fast-paced, action-packed, and gripping.

The film takes place in Cape Town. Denzel Washington portrays Tobin Frost, a rogue CIA agent in possession of delicate government secrets, who gets caught and transferred to a safe house. It’s manned by Matt Weston (Reynolds), a rookie agent itching for a real assignment. The safe house is later attacked by unknown baddies and Reynolds’ character takes upon himself to transport the prisoner to safety. Somewhere along the way, however, Matt realises that not everything is as clear-cut as he thought and doesn’t know whom to trust – his bosses seem to be hiding something. The two protagonists are forced into an uneasy alliance. The supporting cast (Brendan Gleeson, Vera Farmiga, Sam Shepard and Liam Cunningham) play rather stereotypical characters, but the actors manage well enough with what they have.

One thing that really deserves a separate paragraph is the presentation of fights and violence in general. Usually, it boils down to the unrealistic: hero gets hurt, hero gets up, hero walks away unscathed. Safe House is the exact opposite. The punches hurt, the blood is real, and shattered glass is painfully sharp. In this film you won’t see miraculous recoveries. Once shot, it is unlikely that the character will recuperate.

Don’t expect many surprises from Safe House and you’ll definitely come out of the cinema feeling satisfied. Thankfully though, it avoided being completely formulaic. It provides some breathers between all the crashes and explosions. They allow the audience to get an insight into the characters’ motives, and the actors to show some … acting. That said, those scenes are still few and far between; the main focus is action. If you’re a fan of good, dynamic directing, Washington’s darker, more menacing characters, and Reynolds’ bruised face, you will like Safe House.

Safe House
Dir: Daniel Espinosa; US action, 2012, 117 mins; Denzel Washington; Ryan Reynolds

Premiered Feb 16

Playing nationwide


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