“Safe House” is one of those movies that you’ll find in 10 years and think, “Oh hey, I didn’t know those two did a movie together, I should check it out.” Then after watching it, you’ll realize why you’d never heard of it before.
Denzel Washington plays the shadowy and epically named Tobin Frost, a former CIA agent who goes rogue and starts selling secrets. When Frost walks into an American consulate in South Africa, he’s taken to a nearby safe house, which is overseen by Mathew Weston (Ryan Reynolds).
A group of mercenaries attack the safe house, forcing Weston to escape with Frost. What follows is a choppy and predictable romp through South Africa as Weston tries to keep Frost from escaping while also trying to stay alive and prove himself to his superiors.
Like any espionage thriller, “Safe House” has a few twists, but they’re all so very predictable that it takes all the fun out of it. If you’ve seen any spy movie before, you’ve seen “Safe House.” Even Denzel seems to get bored as the movie goes on. When we first meet Frost, he has a mischievous gleam in his eye, but by the end, he just seems bored and tired of the events unfolding.
Frost is one of the more poorly used characters that I’ve seen in a while. When I first saw a preview that showed Denzel playing a rogue CIA agent with a knack for mental manipulation, I immediately started looking forward to it, but by the end of the film, I realized that Frost barely did anything to make us believe that he was as much of a threat as he was supposed to be. Provided, Denzel does a great job with the moments he’s given and gives the character at least a little depth, although we never get the full picture of Tobin Frost.
Reynolds plays the naïve Weston perfectly. All too often we get the character who’s been overlooked by their superiors, and they either end up being hopelessly incompetent or a closet badass. Weston is neither, and it works very well.
While his lack of field experience is obvious, we can also see him prove that he is, in fact, a trained agent with the skills to prove it.
One thing that director Daniel Espinosa does well in this movie is to continually remind the viewer that nobody can be trusted and nobody is safe. From the opening scene where Frost meets with a contact from MI6 who initially sells him the much sought after file which drives the film, each scene is laced with tension as it’s never made perfectly clear who can be trusted.
“Safe House” is nothing all that special, and doesn’t live up to its hype, but it’s worth a see for fans of the actors.