Review: Safe House

Will Murphy laments the lack of versatility in the latest Denzel vehicle.

Denzel Washington Ryan Reynolds Review Safe House


Think about the last film you saw that had Denzel Washington in it. Be it ‘Deja Vu’, ‘Book of Eli’ or ‘Unstoppable’ (it’s virtually all of them apart from maybe Remember the Titans and Training Day): you’ve pretty much just imagined Safe House.
It’s got everything you’ll expect from one of these espionage thrillers, and nothing you won’t. Every facet of the plot can be predicted with a bit of intelligent guesswork, and the twists and turns come around just when you expect them to: something that shouldn’t really be said of a twist, or, for that matter, a turn. 
Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) is a young safe house keeper, with a European girlfriend. There’s strike one. Tobin Frost (Denzers) is an enemy of the state, being chased down by bad bastards in cars, leather coats and moustaches (strike two), eventually willingly giving himself up to the US consulate in Cape Town.
He manages to escape the ‘clutches’ of Weston, whose character development ranges from ‘scared but determined’ to ‘a little less scared but just as determined’. Denzel is Denzel all over again, cunning, witty and ruthless. That, folks, is strike three, simply because we’ve seen it all before.
I’m a big fan of Denzel, and I used to think that his name on the billing would guarantee two hours of pretty decent entertainment. However, apart from well-paced action scenes and a couple of reasonably good performances (Brendan Gleeson’s American accent is getting worse), there wasn’t really anything decent about this one. The pace is erratic and difficult to follow, and the shaky camera close-ups will bore you after a while.
Having seen the film, the trailer for it angers me every time I see it. It’s misleading and makes it feel like an A-lister packed action romp with a plot to match. The plot itself is decidedly B-movie material. Nothing of any real interest is explored, and the twist (it turns out that the government are the bad guys) is underwhelming and disappointing, especially after sitting through an hour and a half of action-packed drivel.
In short: don’t bother.