Safe House tries to be something it’s not: A thinking man’s action thriller with unpredictable twists and turns.
However, it’s nothing more than a mindless action film that’s pretty predictable. The only thing that saves it from becoming B-movie schlock is the fact that it has 2-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington (Training Day, Glory) to class it up. The producers expect this movie to do well by putting it all on the brand name Washington has become in Hollywood.
True, he adds layers to an otherwise uninspired, one-dimensional role, but even the great Washington can only do so much. He plays Tobin Frost, a rogue CIA operative on the run for a decade who has valuable information on key players in the intelligence community. Targeted by a slew of terrorists led by the mercenary Vargas (Fares Fares, Metropia), Frost voluntarily surrenders to the CIA to avoid his enemies.
He is taken to a CIA safe house run by low-level CIA operative Matt Weston (Green Lantern’s Ryan Reynolds, who turns in a wooden performance), who wants a field assignment. During Frost’s interrogation, the safe house is attacked, which is impossible because only key CIA officials knew about its existence. So that tells you right there who coordinated this attack.
All but Weston and Frost are murdered by the bad guys. The two go out on the lam. They don’t like each other, they don’t trust each other, but they have to work together. Ho-hum. Frost gets away from Weston, whom he knocks out because he only kills professionals, he tells him. When he wakes up, Weston goes after him with a vengeance, going from desk jockey to seasoned 007-esque spy literally overnight (the film takes place within 36 hours). Huh? How’d that happen?
What follows is action sequence after action sequence – it all becomes a blur. Washington’s character turns out to be a good bad guy if you will (snore). The climax of the movie where the bad guy is revealed is very anti-climatic.
If you’re in the mood for a good thinking person’s action film, there’s The Bourne Trilogy (which critics have unfairly compared to this garbage), The Fugitive, Enemy of the State, In the Line of Fire, and The Debt. That’ll get you started.
If you’re in the mood for a good Washington flick, there’s the above-mentioned films, Courage Under Fire (where he should’ve been nominated for an Oscar), The Pelican Brief, Crimson Tide, Remember the Titans, Man on Fire, Déjà Vu, the list goes on. You’ll notice, however, Safe House is not on that list.

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