Denzel Washington plays an ex CIA agent/special forces operative (to be honest, I forget) who gets captured and taken to the (official) CIA's most inept hideout which is promptly overrun by baddies and everyone is killed. Everyone that is, apart from plucky Ryan Reynolds who is basically the CIA's caretaker of the unsafe safe house. He therefore has to rescue Washington and escort him to safety, all the time being pursued by baddies who can wipe out a professional CIA team in seconds, but can't shoot an untrained agent and his shackled prisoner.
I can suspend my disbelief to accept all that. There's car chases, slick camera work, shoot-outs and punch-up - pretty much everything you'd expect from a modern action film. But it's still only average. The only thing that elevates it from being VERY average is Denzil Washington who, as usual, turns in a pretty decent performance, given what he has to work with. He snarls, charms and punches his way through most situations and Ryan Reynolds seems to have good chemistry with him in his attempts at keeping him both safe and cuffed at the same time.
If anyone else was in the film it would simply be average, but if you like the sound of another car chase-laden action film with a better than average cast, give this one a go. It might be slightly longer than your average action flick, but it's entertaining enough not to bore.
on 9 June 2012
Denzil Washington is back on our screens in this action thriller as Tobin Frost a rogue CIA agent on the run. But he's not on the run alone, he's escorted by Matt Weston, the young CIA agent (Ryan Reynolds), who was supposed to keep Frost nicely safe and locked up in a Safe House pending interrogation by the CIA. But that plan went pear-shaped when a bunch of guys from who-knows-where blasted the big steel door off and came charging in, guns blazing and didn't seem to care who they shot as long as it wasn't each other. Weston wants to know why Frost is such hot property, Frost wants to know why he was getting shot at too. We, the audience, know that Frost is carrying a secret, a list of people. If it gets into the wrong hands and becomes public then a lot of the world's secret agencies are going to be very unhappy bunnies. Frost was about to get millions for the sale of the list until other men in black got in his way and he had to turn himself in to stay alive. Can our Denzel really be a baddy? Watch the movie and find out. It certainly looks that way.
Safe House has received mixed reviews from Joe Public but while I accept it isn't a top notch thriller, I enjoyed it. I watched it without expectations which is always a good thing. Bits of it felt like watching a Bourne movie although I didn't think the fight sequences were choreographed half as excitingly, and I didn't think the car chase scenes were half as 'exhilarating' as Jason Bourne driving that mini in Bourne Identity. You have to decide for yourself and I suggest you check out one or two YouTube clips to get a better impression than can be given in written reviews. You must remember the times that someone has told you they hated a movie and you liked it, and vice versa. I think a lot of the disappointment is down to expectations and it seems that a lot of movie watchers nowadays want a lot less drama and a lot more blood with their popcorn. But, personally, I don't enjoy watching a movie without some quiet moments to contrast with the action. Also, with Denzel Washington, the bar is perhaps set unrealistically high.
There are a few very familiar faces in this, apart from Denzel. Ryan Reynolds was in X:Men Origins - Wolverine. Vera Farmiga was in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and Source Code. Brendan Gleeson was in In Bruges, Breakfast on Pluto and stars as Alastair 'Mad Eye' Moody in some of the Harry Potter movies. The lovely Sam Shepard also has a small role. He's looking a little older nowadays (aren't we all?) One of my favourite films starring him recently is Black Hawk Down (2011).
Oh, and the movie has an excellent soundtrack, I think. You can check it out on iTunes.
Further reviews of mine can be seen at: Movies and Books World, shown on my profile. Thanks for reading this. x
Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds -Waiting) is a house-keeper. For the CIA. His job involves keeping and tending to a secure agency location in Cape Town, South Africa. Matt is going out of his mind with boredom and pleads with CIA director & mentor David Barlow (Brendan Gleeson - The Guard) to find him another placement as 12 months and not a single house-guest has left him no chance to prove himself to the agency. That is until CIA turncoat Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington - Man On Fire) turns himself in unexpectedly at the US Consulate. Transferred to Matt's safe-house with a heavy-fire team, this looks like Matt's chance until the team are all killed by the people chasing Frost. With no other CIA assets in the area, it's now up to Matt to take care of his ward and deliver him to the agency, will Matt manage to stay alive for long enough to deliver Frost? Are things that straight forward?
Safe House is a tense and well-filmed affair; credit to director Daniel Espinosa, filmed in the picturesque surrounds of South Africa. It's a high-tension affair with a lone agent endlessly pursued by a heavily-armed force all the while trying to transport his prisoner, who is playing psychological games with him the entire time. It's a great performance from Washington, but he has played this type of role many times. Ryan Reynolds is good here, but it's not a runaway performance by any means despite the fantastic box-office figures ($85m budget, $202m generated) thanks to choppy action sequences, that look like they are frenetic, but you just end up losing track when you are left watching an 115-minute long alternating stream of gunshots and car-crashes, back-dropped by some thinly-described CIA conspiracy story.
Extra Content: A featurette titled: "Behind the Action" - interesting seeing the fights inside of a car, but ultimately, nothing too outlandish.
Recommended for a pulse-heightening action movie, but it's not going to blow you away despite solid performances from the actors.
on 14 March 2014
Tobin Frost is a CIA agent who's turned rogue. When he is pursued by men who want to kill him, he goes to the American Consulate where he knows he will be arrested.
When the CIA learns of this, it's decided to bring him to a safe house in Capetown. Shortly after they arrive, the men who chased Frost storm the safe house and kill everyone there.
Matt Weston, the agent who's tasked with looking after the safe house, is the only one left, so he takes Frost and they go on the run. While on the run, Frost tells Weston that the only way those men found the safe house was that someone on the inside told them about it.
Eventually Frost escapes and Weston is told to report to Langley but just as he's about to, he recalls something that Frost did that helps him figure out where he could be going.
But just as he arrives, the men who are after Frost show up but Weston saves him and they head off. But Weston knows that Frost is holding something back....
Denzel Washington is one of those actors that can open a movie regardless of the content. And here is another example. It's your usual story of corruption in the government, and Washington holds the answer.
It's another great performance from the actor, but Frost is a different kind of character to the ones we are used to seeing.
If you mix Harris from Training day and Creasey from Man on Fire, you comes up with the closest answer to Frost. The character on paper is despicable, but once the film gets going, he's not all bad after all, but still carries an evil streak with him.
Reynolds has never been better than his performance here, and proves he has acting chops as well as the looks. The narrative is good, and the action is very loud and up close, but not as irritating as some are saying.
So all in all, it's nothing special, you can pretty much work out who the bad guy is in the first five minute, but thanks to Washington and Reynolds, an average thriller, becomes thrilling.
on 27 June 2016
A really fast paced and dramatic movie. I has a very strange story which reminds me of Borne ID but it is set in the real world of spies and secrecy. We find ourselves in South Africa where the caretaker of a building finds he works for the CIA. He then get involved in chase to find a former CIA agent turned mercenary who has been captured and then escapes. A chase follows in which he tried to find the former agent. We then learns that the agent is not what we are told he is and neither are the people looking for him. The ending which I will not reveal is very good and clever when it comes.
The action/drama/mystery film opens with a quick character build up of the multifaceted CIA agent Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds). He operates a safe house with nobody in it. He wants a European field assignment, but lacks department seniority.
The movie switches to Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) obtaining an embarrassing electronic file from the MI6 in South Africa. "Frost", because he is cold. Denzel uses his expected savvy to escape. He is a rogue super agent who free lances, buying and selling information. In order to escape the bad guys, Tobin surrenders to the CIA. Now the questions are: Was this his original plan? What is on the file?
Tobin is taken to our aforesaid safe house for intense interrogation.
I loved the opening of the interrogation scene. The interrogator says, "I'm here to advise you of your rights. You're being held under national security order 600 which means you have none."
Frost is too important of a person and the top secret safe house comes under attack. The young low level highly trained Matt Weston is now on the run with a man who is a master manipulator of people. To our list of unanswered questions we now add, "Who is the mole?"
Ryan and Washington give us excellent performances. It had elements of the Bourne series that made this story interesting, but it doesn't quite measure up to that film. Cliche ending. I would say if you are a fan of the trilogy, check this one out.
Multiple chase scenes, torture, killings, shoot outs, minor "roof top" jumping, car wreaks without explosions.
1 f-Bomb, no sex, no nudity. Rated R for violence.
on 31 October 2014
Safe House is a 2012 American action thriller film directed by Daniel Espinosa, starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. It was released on February 10, 2012 in North America by Universal Pictures. Filming took place in Cape Town, South Africa.
Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington), an ex-CIA NOC operative turned international criminal, acquires a data storage device from rogue MI6 agent Alec Wade (Liam Cunningham). Attacked by a team of mercenaries led by Vargas (Fares Fares), Wade is killed and Frost is forced to surrender himself to the American consulate in Cape Town, South Africa.
Frost is transferred to a local safe house maintained by "housekeeper" Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds), a young agent recently promoted to the boring, low-level CIA posting. Weston watches veteran agent Daniel Kiefer (Robert Patrick) as he begins to interrogate Frost via waterboarding. Vargas and his men attack the safe house, killing Kiefer and his team. Weston escapes, taking Frost as his charge. When Weston makes contact with his superior, David Barlow (Brendan Gleeson), at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, Catherine Linklater (Vera Farmiga), another CIA operative, orders Weston to lie low and await further instructions.
Weston hides out with Frost and calls his girlfriend Ana Moreau (Nora Arnezeder), a French medical resident who does not know that he works for the CIA, and tells her to leave the house. Barlow later tells Weston to go to Cape Town Stadium to retrieve a GPS device with the location of a nearby safe house. He retrieves the GPS at the stadium, but Frost creates a diversion and gets away by disguising himself as a policeman. Weston, detained by the police, escapes but can't catch Frost. Weston goes to recapture Frost but Frost ambushes and aims a gun at him, then says bluntly "I only kill professionals" and bursts Weston's eardrum by shooting into the wall right next to him before leaving the area.
Weston is ordered to visit the nearest American embassy for debriefing. Instead he meets with Ana and reveals that he is a CIA agent. He tells her to return to Paris for her safety. Weston tracks Frost to a shantytown in Langa, where Frost is meeting Carlos Villar (Rubén Blades), an old contact and document forger. Vargas attacks again, killing Villar along with his wife, but Frost eludes him and his men with Weston's help. Weston subsequently learns that Vargas is actually working for the CIA, which is seeking to retrieve the storage device Frost received from Wade. The device is Israeli intelligence, revealed to contain details of corrupt officials and secret money transfers involving American CIA, British MI6, and other intelligence agencies; Weston recognizes the reference to the Mossad because the CIA accused Frost of selling secrets to them before he became a rogue agent. Weston's own superiors may be implicated. Frost is taken to the new safe house by Weston, where Weston is attacked by the housekeeper, Keller (Joel Kinnaman).
After a great deal of struggling, Weston kills Keller but is badly wounded in the fight. Frost leaves Weston who then passes out from the wounds sustained fighting Keller. Meanwhile, Linklater has arrived in South Africa with Barlow to collect Frost and Weston from the safe house, but on the way is shot and killed by Barlow, who goes to the safe house and reveals that he is Vargas's employer. He confirms that the file contains incriminating evidence against him, and encourages Weston to lie about what has happened. Frost returns to rescue Weston by killing Vargas and his men but is shot by Barlow. Weston then shoots Barlow in the chest, killing him. Frost gives Weston the file and tells Weston he is better than him before he dies from his injuries.
Back in the United States, Weston meets with CIA Deputy Director Harlan Whitford (Sam Shepard), who informs Weston that unflattering facts about the CIA must be removed from his report, but that he will be promoted. He asks Weston about the file's location but Weston denies having been told about it by Frost. Whitford states that whoever has those files will have many enemies. Weston leaves, then leaks the files to the media, incriminating personnel from many intelligence agencies, including Whitford. Later on, Weston sees Ana across a street in Paris, France. She reads a note passed to her from him, looks up at Weston, and they both make eye contact and she smiles before Weston walks away.
on 11 March 2012
A film does not always have to be intellectually demanding or challenging. When it isn't, it can still be reviewed on it's own merits. Safe House falls short of a great action thriller, In fact it falls just short of a good one too, but it is not totally devoid of entertainment, at least. it is not a complete waste of time.
The action in Safe House, while repetitive, is quick, fluid and enjoyably prevalent; the storm of gunfire and screams of pain are sure to be heard throughout the theater. The snappy action is sure to please most action junkies, without ostracizing observers who came for more. Plus there are some great locations used, South Africa has its own filmic playground it seems.
One thing that this film really needs, though, is a conformity to the audience. The empathetic connection that audiences build with a character is vital in any film, but it can be especially important in action films. Every generic thriller/action flick has fast action and showy effects, but you will not really care about what happens in the end. That lack of involvement is one of the major blemishes in Safe House. With a shower and a brief boredom montage being the only scenes before the action begins, Safe House seems to miss out on any attachment to the main character. By jumping into the main plot so quickly, there was no time to affiliate to Reynolds' character (or any character, for that matter).
16 Blocks, a less seen thriller with Bruce Willis as cop and Mos Def as the perp, was probably better. Denzel deserves better. Alonzo Harris would have Tobin Frost for breakfast.
on 7 June 2016
I found this an enjoyable thriller although it's really nothing we haven't seen before. Good acting all around and a good blu Ray picture and sound. The only thing that marred it for me (spoiler) was it was obvious who the baddie in the CIA was from pretty early on. I thought the movie might be cleverer than that. Worth a watch though.
on 21 May 2016
These two really don't get along. Denzel is as always brilliant. Mr Reynold's is Fantastic as the new kid on the block. They are very good together in this and according to the extra behind the scenes neither pulled any punches in the making of this film. Which is why when you see this you will understand my comments.