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Review: Safe House

Denzel Washington has been in some of my favorite movies of all time. At this time, one of them is even on this blog (not Inside Man). As for Ryan Reynolds? Well, he's Ryan Reynolds. He seems to play the same character over and over again and he hasn't done much outside of that. With the release of Safe House, we do get to see him take on a rare serious role though. This action thriller gives both he and Washington a chance to do something a little different from what they're used to.

Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) is a former CIA agent who went rogue years ago and is considered one of the best agents they've ever had. Frost has been off the grid since leaving, but has popped up recently and is being brought to a CIA safe house in South Africa that is being watched over by a low-level CIA agent named Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds). After being held captive there for a while, the house is ambushed by a group of unknown men who want Frost and what ever it is that he has. Frost and Weston barely escape with their lives and are now left trying to find out who is behind this attack.

Ryan Reynolds doesn't usually do movies that need him to be too serious. He usually plays roles that are funny or are supposed to be funny. That can be said for his movies whether they're action movies or those love story things that he should stop making. If I were going to use Safe House to judge how well he would do in more serious roles, then I would say that he should stick to roles that are tailor-made for him. The truth is, I can't really say that at this time.

My critique of Ryan Reynolds and his acting ability has to be put on hold at this moment, because I can't put his lack of a performance all on him. Safe House is incredibly bland through the dramatic scenes where we're supposed to get to know these guys and what they're about. Outside of the action scenes, there's very little life in anything else. The scenes that are exclusively full of dialog are boring, because the characters were so dry and plot development didn't go over well. The movie really hurts itself early on due to this. It doesn't even tell you what this is all about until later on in the movie. That would've been fine or even cool if the movie's first half had more energy to build up the drama.

This may be the first movie that I've seen that was able to kill much of the charisma belonging to Denzel Washington. Whether it's in movies or interviews, the guy always seems charismatic and full of life, but this movie didn't allow any of that to be shown. I was a little shocked to be honest with you. Not just because of the charisma killer that this movie actually is, but the fact that Washington would even agree to do a movie like this anyway. With all of the projects that he's done and all of the accolades he's received over the years, I happen to think that movies like this are beneath him. I'm used to seeing him in films with better plots and storylines, but whatever. Maybe he wanted to star in another straight up action movie, since he's hasn't done too many of those in his career?

The twist in this movie is something that we've seen done before and done better. If you've seen the trailer, then you already know what the plot twist is. You will get an idea of who's behind the conspiracy, but you won't truly know who it is until it finally happens. I wish they would have given more thought to it and added something different. This seemed like a Jason Bourne rip-off with some parts of the plot and the shaky camera stuff. I don't even know why they came out with this movie at this time with the new Bourne movie coming out this summer. They should have just waited and created a better script before they let this hit theaters.

The best and really the only good part of Safe House is the action. The fighting, the shooting and the car chases added life to what would have been an overall flat movie without it. The second half of the movie is filled with action and it's fun to watch these guys doing all of the things that they did during all of these sequences. This half was just flat-out better than the first one and it makes the movie more than watchable if you can sit through the vanilla dialog and the boring plot development that starts from the beginning.

I would liken Safe House to some of the women that a guy might go out with. They might be beautiful and visually appealing overall, but once you sit down to talk with them, you realize that they might also be boring, not very bright and maybe even borderline crazy. After you go through a few dates, you finally get to the "action" (I'm trying to be PG people, use your imaginations) and you come to understand that that's easily the best part of being with these women since they don't have anything of substance to offer. The "action" makes them fun to be around sometimes, but sooner or later, you have to accept the fact that they're not girlfriend material. They're not bad, but you know that there are better and more complete options out there.

That's Safe House in a nutshell. You love the action, but all of the inner workings fail. Denzel is one of the few actors that I'm actually a fan of and you can't waste someone with his acting talents. Washington and the rest of the actors were caught in a movie with a below average script and not a whole lot else outside of the action. Safe House wasn't bad, but you know that there are better and more complete options out there.

Score: 2.5/5

Rating: R

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Denzel Washington
Ryan Reynolds
Brendan Gleeson
Sam Shepard
Vera Farmiga
Robert Patrick

Film Length: 115 minutes

Release Date: February 10, 2012

Distributor: Universal Pictures

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