Published February 08, 2012
Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynold's new thriller “Safe House” is pure adrenaline. The sheer force of action ricochets through the theater as Team Washington and Reynolds deliver one intense action film.
Both actors ground the propulsive, violent film with excellent performances. The two keep things real for the two-hour duration.
Denzel plays traitorous CIA agent Tobin Frost, whose predatory gaze and suave demeanor both slices and charms. He’s an ex-agent who has seen and done terrible things and has finally reached a limit. His gruff persona exudes exhaustion, yet manages to stay slick and venomous. Watching Frost wreck havoc on his assailants is entertaining, but Washington adds much more to the character than just typical beat downs.
Reynolds is the rookie idealist agent Matt Weston, who swears to protect Frost from the swarms of bad guys crashing down on them at every turn. Reynolds is smart to not overplay the tough guy part but to keep his character fledgling and on the verge of self-doubt.
The majority of the film is shot in close-up, which is extremely disorienting. The non-stop shaky-cam makes it even more unsettling, especially during the action scenes. If you suffer from motion sickness this film could possibly make you ill.
Though you’ll feel like you’re spinning in a turbine, the action is expertly choreographed. There are plenty of car chases to satiate those having withdrawal from the “Fast and Furious” movies and each chase feels incredibly real.
“Safe House” and last month’s “Haywire” are cut from the same cloth. It would be interesting to watch the two similarly plotted films back to back as they both attack the material differently. “Haywire” classically keeps the camera at a distance so we can take in the full effect of the action while “Safe House,” in close-up, pits you in the chaotic mechanizations of the fighting.
While “Safe House” is a film we’ve all seen before, and has a disappointingly clichéd finale, Denzel and Reynolds keep the bulk of the film fresh, gritty and intense.