Action Movies, by Mike Richardson, 21 April 2012

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Stars: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds and Robert Patrick

Country: USA

Runtime:

Release Date:

Language: English

Our Rating: 5/10

Maybe Oscar time is the time that the studios release their poor films because there seems to be an awful lot of particularly mediocre films at the multiplexes right now.

By no means the worst of the bunch is Safe House, but that really is damning it with faint praise.

Safe House

Safe House

Safe House is possibly the least original film available to watch right now. The idea that a rouge CIA/MI6/KGB/CID/MFI agent who hasn’t actually turned, but is being hunted and framed by his superiors because he has information implicating them in illegal activities YAAWWWNNN has been made so many times before that you feel it could have been spliced together from the cutting room floor of any Mission Impossible, Jason Bourne, Knight and Day or James Bond.

It’s not just the basic premise that is overly familiar, Denzel Washington’s Frost (the superspy who may or may not have gone into business for himself) is so familiar he comes across as very similar to all recent Denzel Washington performances, so much so that his character looks like he could have been spliced together from previous Denzel films, and while he’s still a heavyweight in the acting stakes and is always worth watching, Safe House is more likely to send you back to a previous film then keep you watching it. Likewise Ryan Reynolds, who is occasionally a perfectly competent actor (although he does seem to pick some awful movies to star in (yes; Green Lantern we’re looking in your direction)) but is once again as the keen, enthusiastic, unproven type of character, he seems to be just a composite of half a dozen past Reynolds’ films, minus any superpowers.

Thrilling stunts and car chases that are supposed to inject some vim and verve into this film, have pretty much been done before and so often.

What were left with is 140 minutes of chase-fight-escape-chase-capture-fight-escape, repeat for as long as you can be bothered, with occasional bursts of “who can we really trust” and mind games that would bore a six-year-old.
All in all this very much seems like a wasted opportunity for all the talent involved, where the sole spark of originality seems to be that this film is shot partly in Cape Town (a vastly under exploited location).

Daniel Espinosa’s the man tasked with directing Safe House and he should take the brunt of the blame. Possibly the producers thought that bringing in a Swedish director would profit from the Nordic cool provided by the Millennium Trilogy, Jo Nesbo and the Killing, however Safe House doesn’t quite hang together as a whole and anything that might have come across as interesting from a directing point of view instead just looks a little bit distracting.
This is a spy film that is for very few people’s eyes only.

Safe House Trailer

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