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Movie Review: Safe House

Prinz Lee image

Prinz Lee wrote this review 6 years ago

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If it stars Denzel Washington, you know it’s good! Seriously, what film starring this man can anyone say “sucked?” Yes, not all are blockbusters, but if there’s one thing all of his films have is swag, attitude and characters that engrave themselves deep within our cranium.

Safe House is another one on Denzel’s resume with a dark twist, along side Ryan Reynolds. Together, the duo stand on opposite ends of government’s spectrum, and unveil harsh events full of lies, truth, guns, global chase and blood. Lots of blood!

For the past year, Matt Weston (Reynolds) has been fidgety with his inactive, backwater post in Cape Town. A "housekeeper" who aspires to be a full-fledged agent, the loyal company man has been waiting for an opportunity to prove he has cojones. When the first and only occupant he's had proves to be the most dangerous man he's ever met, Weston braces for duty.

That man is Tobin Frost. A badass whose dipped capture for almost a decade. One of the best ops men that the CIA's known, the ex-intelligence officer has given up assets and sold military intel to anyone with cash since he turned. From trading secrets to North Korea (I would imagine while Kim Jung Ill was still alive) to aiding terror cells, the damage he's done to the U.S. is immeasurable. And he's now back on the reservation with a secret.

However, even the smoothest get caught! Once Frost slips and brought in for debriefing, mercenaries crash it and tear apart Weston's safe house. Barely escaping, the unlikely partners must discover if their attackers have been sent by terrorists or someone on the inside who will kill anyone standing in the way. Now it's up to Weston to figure out who he can trust before they're both eliminated from the game.

For starters, what makes this film freaking awesome is that it gets right to it. Films rarely present quick character build-up; however, Safe House sets up who’s who and swiftly. We start off with Ryan Reynolds, his status and mind-set. That’s followed by a pretty cool supporting cast in Sam Shepard, Brendan Gleeson and Vera Farmiga, and last but not least, the hand that rocks the film’s cradle – Denzel.

Each with objectives to reach and defined pretty quickly, the script did seem a bit jumpy. There were many moments which felt rushed or matched inappropriately; however, the art of darkened will – especially among Denzel’s character – is what carries the film.

Once paired off with Ryan, there was a transfer of aura or “It Factor.” Actors like Ryan Reynolds, Ethan Hawke or even Julia Roberts carry so much weight when seen in other films they star in, but no one can stand next to and evenly share scenes with Denzel. Washington’s powerful presence on screen and any character he plays steals the show. Whether playing a hero or an extremely believable villain, you really fall for this man’s swag.

Just like Training Day, Safe House’s Tobin Frost is such a relaxed, professional manipulator; it’s pretty nice to see how he owns Matt Weston. Right off the bat during their first scene where Matt’s forced to keep his “house guest” safe, the stare-down and words used to crack inside Weston’s head are flawless.

With tons of testicular fortitude amidst shoot-outs, fights, car chases, unveiling lies, explosions and a little love to sweeten it up a bit, Safe House represents a thrill-ride of complexities within the CIA, I’m sure many who attended last night’s screening walked out with thoughts of becoming an agent.

It’s gritty. It’s harsh. It’s violent. It’s loud. But most of all… it’s awesome! Never has espionage seemed so much fun!



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