Safe House (2011)
Directed by Daniel Espinosa
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Denzel Washington, Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard
Daniel Espinosa broke into Hollywood in 2011 with this action-packed thriller. Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington head up a cast that includes Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, and Sam Shepard. Reynolds has been a big name in Hollywood after a series of big films including The Proposal, The Change-Up, and Green Lantern. This time around he’s sharing the screen with Hollywood veteran Denzel Washington. Glory and Training Day won Washington two Academy Awards. In addition, he’s been in blockbuster films like Philadelphia, Malcom X, and American Gangster.
The cast also includes Vera Farmiga. She’s become a familiar face since her Oscar nomination for her role in Up in the Air. She’s recently been in movies like Quid Pro Quo and Source Code. Safe House also stars Brendan Gleeson, popular for his role in the Harry Potter films as well as roles in hit films like Gangs of New York. Sam Shepard rounds out the cast. He was nominated for an Oscar for his role in The Right Stuff. He’s also been in a number of movies including Black Hawk Down and The Notebook.
Matt Weston (Reynolds) is living in Cape Town, South Africa as an unproven CIA agent. With the exception of a beautiful girlfriend, Weston spends his days in boredom at an unknown safe house. All of this changes when he gets a call that a high level prisoner will be coming his way. This isn’t just any prisoner, it’s Tobin Frost (Washington), a highly wanted traitor and former CIA agent. The routine task of holding Frost is shattered when the safe house is attacked and Westin is forced to take his prisoner and leave. Now he’s on the run with a cunning and dangerous prisoner. They’re also being hunted by others who also want to take hold of Frost. With the number of people he can trust dwindling, Westin takes matters into his own hands in an effort to deliver Frost into custody safely. This is going to take all of his skills as he battles with Frost as well as those out to get them both.
This is a really well-made action thriller. The movie starts up nicely and never seems to lose momentum. The action is well choreographed and the special effects and stunt add to the visual quality of the movie. Even the gun battles have a realism to them that make for a more exciting story. They still have that Hollywood flare for the over-the-top moments, but nothing that takes the scenes to an unbelievable level.
The story is an interesting one. Unfortunately it falls a bit shorts of the level I had hoped for. Mainly it lacks background that would have given depth to the main characters. Washington’s character could have been more interesting with more information on where he is coming from. This didn’t make this a bad movie, it just fell a bit short in the payoff.
On a personal note, I enjoyed this movie a lot. Having lived in South Africa, it was nice to see Hollywood take advantage of the culture and natural scenery of that wonderful place. The movie did a good job of avoiding stereotyping the people or the language. It was cool to see Reynolds speaking Afrikaans as well.
Overall, this was a fun movie with an interesting series of twists. I would recommend this if you’re a fan of the Bourne series or movies along that line. I give this one 3.7 out of 5 stars.
Running Time: 115 minutes