Good, Bad & Ugly Review: Safe House

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 53% (Critics) / 70% (Audience)
Directed By: Daniel Espinosa
Written By: David Guggenheim
Starring: Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds
Studio: Universal Pictures

Synopsis: A green CIA agent (Ryan Reynolds), tasked with the benign job of overseeing a safe house in Cape Town, South Africa, ends up going on the run with his first prisoner, a rogue CIA agent (Denzel Washington) selling high level secrets, when the safe house is attacked.

The Good:
Movie Rule of Thumb #272: Denzel Washington makes anything better. Washington plays Tobin Frost with so much alternating charm and intensity that he tends to make even the most pedestrian lines seem like they are far more profound than they actually are. There is also a nice little bit of chemistry between Washington and Ryan Reynolds most especially during the points in the movie where Washington’s Frost attempts to play mind games with Reynolds inexperienced Agent Matt Weston. Reynolds also hangs in there with Washington throughout the film without being totally outshone which is not easy to do just look at how Ethan Hawke was gobbled up whole by Washington’s performance in TRAINING DAY.
There are also a few cool chases scenes (both car and on foot) to break up the monotony that creeps into the film sometimes.
With the limited time he was on-screen Ben Gleeson did an admirable job as Weston’s mentor in the CIA.
And Reuben Vega was in this! I can’t remember the last time I saw Vega in a movie. He did a good job in his small role.

The Bad:
Vera Farmiga has a thankless role as a CIA agent in charge of the team that was supposed to interrogate Frost. She is supposed to be putting forth a bit of the “woman in a man’s world fighting to be seen on equal footing” vibe I guess but instead just comes off as a totally unpleasant character.
I would have liked to have seen more of Robert Patrick and there was no good reason for Weston to have a girlfriend in this film. Nora Arnezeder is very pretty but her character was as superfluous as a third nipple.

The Ugly:
The film as a whole was a bit too predictable and I pegged who the bad guy was from the first trailer I saw several months ago.

Final Verdict: Nothing new is added to the spy film genre by SAFE HOUSE and if you are looking for smart dialogue and unexpected twists and turns I would recommend you go see another movie. But if all you are looking for a great performance by an A-list movie star and some pretty decent action then this movie is well worth the time and price of admission. C+

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