‘Safe House’ About As Generic As You Can Get

by Eric Melin on February 10, 2012

in Reviews,Video Reviews

This review originally appeared in shorter form on KSNT-NBC, KTKA-ABC, and KTMJ-FOX, Kansas First News.

safe-house-poster-2012-reynolds-washingtonSafe House is a new action thriller starring Denzel Washington as a dangerous, high-priority prisoner and Ryan Reynolds as the inexperienced safe-house agent who must transport him.

Director Daniel Espinosa presents the film with lots of handheld shaky-cam work and uncomfortable close-ups to make it seem more realistic, which is good—because if you think too much about the plot, you may realize it’s pretty silly stuff.

It’s basically the same story outline as 3:10 to Yuma, where the captive develops a begrudging respect for the captor as they journey to a drop-off point. In this case, its South Africa and there are a ton of people on both sides of the law trying to capture Washington.

Only in Safe House, the characters are woefully underdeveloped, have way less interesting philosophical discussions about where they are coming from, and the movie doesn’t work as a thriller either: You can see the multitude of double-crosses coming a mile away.

Washington is really coasting with this role. He doesn’t have to do much besides look intimidating, which he’s always good at, but it’s a shame that he’s not taking on more challenging stuff. Not to mention the fact that great actors like Brendan Gleeson, Vera Farmiga, and Sam Shepard are in Safe House mainly to point at video screens and shout out commands at CIA command.

On the other hand, Reynolds actually shines through, creating a palpable sense of fear as a nice guy who is way out of his depth but too stubborn to stop trying. And some of the action scenes may manage to quicken your pulse a bit. Other than that, Safe House is pretty disappointing, generic stuff.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers.com and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Miriam February 12, 2012 at 7:41 pm

You’ve given an excellent review of Safe House” and a great cast was simply unused as CIA chiefs of ‘this and that.’ I tuned out when Reynolds was being strangled and not only did he stay conscious, but his driving skills were not for a second impaired. Give me a break….please! There were any number of ways to shoot the chase without it becoming laughable. Thanks for a great review

Miriam

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2 Eric Melin February 12, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Yep. The gritty realism the director was going for was certainly undercut by the silliness of the script, and it was too bad that so many great actors were underused. Thanks for the comment, Miriam.

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3 JKP February 13, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Yea but i got a real kick out of seeing Denzel’s cool stlye he never seemed to be out of control always knowing the squence of things. His tactics never fail him no matter who falls next to him.

Also my GF made a good point that he past his skills on to ryan the whole teacher student thing was cool.

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4 RICH February 15, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Pretty reasonable review, but I liked it

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