Director: Daniel Espinosa
Writer: David Guggenheim
Stars:Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds and Robert Patrick
Motion Picture Rating: 15
Runtime: 115 minutes
As with Liam Neeson, the early 1950’s born Denzel Washington is wearing well and still more than capable of starring in an all-action film. Here he plays an ex-CIA agent that went rogue, but dramatically appears back on the agency grid and in the middle of a messy deal in state secrets. That becomes apparent later in the film as the start is deliberately hazy. The camera follows Denzel around the streets of Cape Town where we get clandestine meetings, long-range snooping, some hand-to-hand combat and an exciting car chase. All of that happens in the first 20 minutes and certainly Safe House gets off to an intriguing start.
Washington’s co-star is Ryan Reynolds who plays a junior agent managing a rarely utilized safe house and to which the apprehended ex-agent is taken. Once that location is compromised Reynolds grabs the hand-cuffed Washington and goes on the run. He tries to deliver him back to his CIA senior colleagues, but it’s clear that other parties to the original dodgy deal are in pursuit, heavily armed and deadly serious. In essence the final 60 minutes is one long chase with 2 or 3 large set-piece shootouts and some decent close quarter combat.
The Director of Photography of Safe House is Oliver Wood who’s best known work to date was completed on the 3 excellent Bourne films. His cinematography on Safe House is highly reminiscent of those films and the long Bourne shadow falls all over this movie. That’s unfortunate because this film is not a patch on the Matt Damon trilogy. It is fast paced and the South African locations are interesting, but there is no real plot and the few ‘twists’ are well sign-posted. Washington is good in the flashier role, but Reynolds is typically unconvincing.