MOVIE REVIEW: 'Safe House' begins interesting, falls into predictability

The first 30 minutes of “Safe House” are engaging and entertaining. The same goes for the last 10 minutes. The biggest problem with “Safe House” is the relatively dry 80 minutes in between.

The film stars Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, and most of the quality in “Safe House” hinges on the good performances put forth by both actors.

Washington’s character Tobin Frost was a top C.I.A. agent until he went rogue for unknown reasons about 10 years prior to the events in the film. Washington does a nice job with his portrayal of Frost, a man who is always calm and collected, no matter what type of situation he has been put in.

The audience gets the feeling that Frost has an almost clairvoyant ability to know what people are going to do well before they actually do it. Frost is a force to be reckoned with, and a nice balance to the inexperienced Matt Weston played by Reynolds.

The most interesting story elements also come from Frost. Allusions to a turbulent past and some regret help to fill out the character and make the audience curious about his motives. Viewers never really know whether Frost is friend or foe, which adds another layer of mystique to his story.

Reynolds also does a good job with his portrayal of Weston. Weston has been the lone watchman of a C.I.A. safe house in South Africa for a year and desperately wants to be put on a detail that sees more action. Weston gets what he wished for and then some when Frost comes into the picture.

Sadly, everything else about the plot feels pretty generic and hollow. There is plenty of espionage and backstabbing that takes place, but most of it feels relatively predictable. There aren’t any surprises. Instead, most of “Safe House” feels like a film going through the motions of a political thriller.

Even the action has issues at times. Like many other action films today, “Safe House” makes extensive use of the shaky camera. It isn’t a constant problem, but there are scenes where it’s really difficult to keep track of what’s happening because of all the shaking. The action also isn’t particularly creative or appealing.

“Safe House” is a relatively enjoyable two hours at the movies, mostly thanks to Washington and Reynolds. It’s just too bad that the story and action in “Safe House” doesn’t really match up to the talent at hand. It all feels like it has been done before, and done better.

Genre: Action, Political Thriller

Rated: R

Score: 3 out of 5


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