Safe House review
Safe House - DVD Review
Safe House makes another entry into the action genre with a strong espionage theme, but instead of featuring the glamorous and exciting lives of the typical spies, the focus is on United States CIA agents and their attempt to safely escort a captured rogue from one secure location to the next, prompting the title of Safe House. Set in the country of South Africa, the American government has to maneuver without the comforting freedom that they are used to, and as such it isn't hard to guess that all doesn't go well along the trek. You have the usual mix of baddies, the two main protagonists that you get a great feel for their characters and how they develop, and then of course the twist and climax. As far as the formula for this type of movie goes, nothing is really going to throw you off. That being said, there is still plenty to keep you entertained.
Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) is a rogue CIA agent who has made a living selling out government secrets to the highest bidder. Obviously this doesn't sit right with the CIA, and with Frost's recent acquisition of a set of files that contain enough information to put a number of high ranking officials in the CIA and other intelligence organizations worldwide in hot water, it seems as though he's quickly climbed the ladder of being most wanted. It doesn't take too long before he gets cornered, and his only option is to walk into a United States Consulate and be taken into custody, and moved to a safe house. At the same time, Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) is a low ranking agent, in charge of a safe house, but with aspirations of moving up and being a field agent. David Barlow (Brendan Gleeson) is a higher up that has been watching over Weston, and although he's trying to get him opportunities to move up, he doesn't have any luck and asks patience out of him. Frost is moved to a safe house rather quickly, and naturally, we find it being the one Weston is overseeing.
At the safe house, Weston gets his first action, at first watching a team of agents interrogate Frost, and then when a number of armed men breach the complex and gunfire is exchanged. He is quickly thrust into the action, and in order to protect the cargo, he moves Frost out of the safe house that is now in enemy control and they hit the road. Following protocol, he contacts the overseers of the operation and they inform him they won't be able to send in reinforcements for quite some time, and for now it would be best for the duo to pop off the grid and lay low. From here on out we have the seasoned veteran with no allegiances always looking for a way out, and the rookie that wants to prove himself, and does what he can to not let the veteran play mind games on him and turn him rogue as well.
The casting was done very well in my opinion. Denzel Washington is one of the most established actors out there, and for the role he was chosen for, there is no way they could have done any better than giving him the nod. Information on his character's behavior and knowledge was freely given, but throughout the movie your eyes are opened to his motives and why he's made his decisions. Ryan Reynolds was cast for the other main role, and before seeing the movie this was a bit of a head scratcher for me. He's good in comedies, as well as the occasional action movie where he still gets to throw in his brand of humor. This role, however, called for someone a bit more callus. After seeing the movie though, you'll see why he was a great fit, and if anything, would actually be looking forward to seeing him more in similar roles. He was flat out able to play the part and remove all doubts in my mind not too far into the movie.
The director (Daniel Espinosa) hasn't lead really any blockbuster titles, but he did well for this one. The pacing was done really well, as were the action and fighting scenes. I'd be interested in seeing what he'll come up with next now that he has a big title attached to his name. The script involved Reynolds and Washington to be in almost every shot, and because of this we were allowed to see Reynolds character grow as a person, and Washington's true nature revealed. As a CIA agent there is a lot of responsibility and flack that is part of the job, and Weston, although very adept when it came to the combat and resourcefulness of an agent, wasn't ready to detach himself emotionally and think on his own. Frost, even in handcuffs most of the time and attempting or at least setting himself up for an escape in nearly every other scene, gave Weston enough advice and pointers throughout to help Weston not only become a better agent, but to help him unmask a few surprising antagonists, as well as deal with the mental turmoil that came with it.
The subplot that gave the characters such depth is something that will keep you involved, even if you aren't huge into the action genre. If you are though, don't worry, there is plenty of gunslinging as well as more tactical methods of fighting showcased to hold your attention. The fight scenes were done beautifully, and progress the story, with the help of the subplot, so they were actually meaningful. Safe House isn't pure action, nor could it be safely classed as a thriller, but it actually dances along the lines of an energized mystery.
The DVD comes with a lot of goodies that you could tell took some time and care to put together. The first on the list is the Making Safe House, where input from the director, screenwriter, producer, and actors are all given on a number of aspects. The director explains the idea for the movie and the direction he wanted it to go, while the actors give feedback of both the guys behind the camera as well as the other actors, all while showing off various footage with the camera men in full view. Hand-To-Hand Action is next on the list, where the stunt crew details the training the actors underwent and a little information on the crew themselves. The movie features a scene where there is a rooftop chase in a small village, and so the next extra shows off how that scene was put together, again giving a bit wider of a shot on most of the scenes, with the camera men in full view. Inside the CIA is the last of the bonus content, where a former CIA worker is shown giving pointers on how the safe houses should be set up among other things.
The bonus content on the DVD lasts for about a half hour, being very well put together and you can appreciate the care and time taken to make them. The movie itself isn't something that will keep you on the edge of your seat, but it will entertain and do its job of satisfying. It is a movie that you don't really need to be in a certain mood to enjoy, as it isn't geared heavily toward a genre in particular. With all of the extras the DVD has to offer, you'll be provided with more than just a movie though, something that would at least warrant a rent if nothing else. I'd recommend picking up a copy and giving it a watch.
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