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Starring:
Denzel Washington
as Tobin Frost

Ryan Reynolds
as Matt Weston

Vera Farmiga
as Catherine Linklater

Brendan Gleeson
as David Barlow

Sam Shepard
as Harlan Whitford

Ruben Blades
as Carlos Villar

Nora Arnezeder
as Ana Moreau

Written by David Guggenheim

Directed by Daniel Espinosa

Running Time: 1:55

Rated R
for strong violence throughout
and some language

C+


THE OPENING

Safe House was a decent film but not one that I could ever really get into.

THE STORY

Tobin Frost is a former CIA agent turned rogue for the last 10 years. When he unexpectedly turns up at the American Embassy in South Africa, all resources are put towards bringing him in safely. But there are couple of groups after him and even when Frost is taken to a safe house, he is attacked. The only survivor of the safe house massacre is a young agent named Matt Weston and now it's up to Weston to keep Frost alive and unravel the mystery behind why so many people want him dead. Weston may find out that not everyone is who they say they are.

THE REVIEW

It's strange how I just wasn't able to get into the story of Safe House. I thought the plot was very muddled and even after thinking about it for a few days I still don't really care one way or another. And all that would have been fine when you have a Denzel Washington action film, with Ryan Reynolds as the backup actor. Throw those two on screen and have a few wild chase scenes and action sequences and I'll let the story pass. But even the action sequences didn't draw me in. There was something about the way the movie was filmed that I simply didn't like. It was overly saturated and very gritty looking and while sometimes that look works, this movie could have used some real Hollywood slickness. It's a shame because a couple of the set sequences - a car chase and then a section set in the slums where the bad guys are chasing down Frost - should have looked really good. But the way they were shot and edited made it hard to follow. There was also a fight scene with Reynolds late in the film that was pretty brutal, but the editing made it hard to figure out who was who (whom?) and so even though the ending of the fight was satisfying, the fight itself left something to be desired. And I don't know if this was done on purpose, but the longer the movie went on, the older Denzel looked. He had his cool swagger to start the movie, but as it kept on going (at nearly 2 hours) he looked older and older. It kind of made me sad.

I know a couple people who really loved the movie, and I suppose I can understand why. It had a top-notch cast and they all did their jobs well. The story was a little confusing, mainly because the info everyone was trying to get was really simplistic and yet it never felt like the end of the world if it got out. I suppose by the time the whole story is revealed you can see why things were downplayed a little but I never felt a real sense of urgency to get the info back. There were some plot holes too which you don't see until the end of the movie, but again I suppose the real purpose of the movie was to showcase the two stars. Denzel didn't really have to break a sweat in the film, but he is starting to show his age. I've always been a Ryan Reynolds fan, and in this case he didn't have his trademark snarky humor, which was good because it would have felt out of place in the story. The rest of the cast was relegated to the background, but between Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard and others, you certainly had a movie with some big named background stars. Visually I didn't care for the look of the film, but I can see why others might enjoy it. But at the end of the day, this isn't a movie I care to see again and that's one of the signs of a movie I enjoyed - if I'd be willing to own it when it came out on DVD.

THE BOTTOM LINE

So overall, I thought Safe House was just so-so. I can understand why others may like it more, but for whatever reason, I just couldn't get into it.

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Reviewed 02/12/12

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