Safe House is a film I picked up in a bundle of DVD’s on eBay. It seems whomever I bought the films from is a big fan of Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington, as there were a few starring vehicles for them both in that bundle. This is slightly different in that they’re both in this film. You know, rather than in separate ones. So Reynolds is Matt Weston, a young cop who is responsible for a safe house. He has a wife who doesn’t know exactly what he does, just that he’s a cop. His days are spent doing very little, but he’s about to be struck by a ridiculous amount of adventure and excitement. Brace yourselves. Meanwhile Denzel Washington is Tobin Frost, an underground special ops type guy who has a bunch of bad guys on his tail. It also happens that the authorities are after him and he’s taken into custody.
Guess which safe house he ends up going to?
When the safe house he’s in is attacked, both he and Weston have to go on the run. On their way, they have to try and work out what these bad guys want and, well, not die. Just to add an extra air of frisson, both Weston and Frost are at loggerheads. As a result their investigation is slowed down, but not at the expense of the film’s pace. Instead what happens is that there is little to make the true villain of the piece obvious until the very end. With that said, if you have half an eye for thriller twists and turns and the misdirection they often throw in, the identity of the bad guy is almost blatantly obvious from page one.Frost is under suspicion for betraying US secrets to other powers, so understandably it turns out that there’s a little more to it than that. To be honest, the actual safe house is only in use for a few minutes in the film, so the title is a bit of a misnomer. Clearly, Weston isn’t very good at his job, because the house is only safe for 2 minutes before the bad guys arrive. The same goes for the other safe house that shows up in the final act, but in terms of story structure it’s actually quite good. The narrative is bookended by these two completely different safe houses and the agents responsible for running them.
Daniel Espinosa is in the director’s chair, and he proves to be competent with both character beats and action sequences. The script offers commentary on US interrogation techniques, in particular the use of waterboarding. Aside from highlighting just how brutal this is, it also makes two points about Weston and and Frost. Weston is righteous, and Frost is a bad–ass.
And finally there is the cast. Washington and Reynolds I find are always good value for money, even if the script isn’t worthy of them. In supporting roles we have the likes of Liam Cunningham, Brendan Gleeson, Vera Farmiga, Robert Patrick and Sam Shepard.
I would say that Safe House is an engaging thriller, but unlikely to be one that will be lauded in future “best of” lists. It does it job and it’s competent in doing it, that’s all you need to know.