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In Cinemas: Safe House

Posted on the 27 March 2012 by Desertofreel @Kob_Monney

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Remember rule number one: you are responsible for your house guest. I’m your house guest.

Safe House exists as a copy and as a result it’s inferior to the films it imitates. Still, it’s enjoyable, even if it is hackneyed and derivative, coming across as a synthesis of 24 and The Bourne trilogy but nowhere near as innovative as those two productions. Safe House’s biggest flaw is that it doesn’t have an original bone in its body and that produces a film that offers few surprises to go along with its brutal fights and big explosions.

Ryan Reynolds is Matt Weston, an inexperienced agent who’s stuck twiddling his thumbs looking after a safe house in Cape Town. When a rogue CIA agent, in the form of Denzel Washington’s Tobin Frost, turns himself in to the US consulate and is subsequently transported to the safe house, all hell breaks loose when a hit team tries to kill him. Weston and Frost escape but the former’s allegiance to the CIA is tested when he’s marginalised by his superiors as he tries to keep Frost under control.

It’s not a hugely original plot, the twist and turns the story takes are all pretty conventional and the roles don’t really test or stretch the combined talents of Reynolds and Washington. Despite the David Guggenheim’s script featuring on the prestigious Black List in 2010, what it excels at is taking all the tropes from action films of the past five years and embedding them into one story. It probably read well on paper, on screen it lacks a certain inspiration of its own.

The lack of interesting ideas spreads to the cast who all perform amicably but are weighed down by clichés and stereotypes. Since there is no overt ‘baddie’ (unless you consider Frost to be one) then it’s no real secret as to where the villain emerges from. The real mystery is why they even bothered to keep it a secret. Washington is, as always, good. His natural charisma creating a character that’s always in charge even when he’s not; always one step ahead of everyone else. Reynolds is okay, holding his own against Washington in the scenes the two actors share but he’s saddled by a rather pointless romance subplot that every action film has to shoehorn in.

The real star of the film is Cape Town, the location lending the film a look and feel that doesn’t feel like it’s a simple copy and paste exercise. The action on the other hands is borrowed wholesale from the Bourne films and implemented in an almost dizzying array of quick cuts. The best thing to say about the action is that it’s not as bad as other films (I’m looking at you Colombiana) but it’s getting to the point where someone needs to get the director, cinematographer or editor to take a sedative and calm down. These frenzied sequences don’t have the effect of putting the viewer in the scene unless they’re having an almighty seizure.

Despite that, Safe House is entertaining, it’s just disappointing that it aims so low and is comfortable in doing so. Director Daniel Espinosa handles everything in the manner you’d expect of big Hollywood action film, a by-the-numbers action film that’ll be probably forgotten.

6/10


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