A super spy on the run in ‘Safe House’
The success of the Bourne trilogy has changed the landscape of spy movies. While there are still James Bond movies, even those have more grit these days. When it comes to spying, old-school car chases and down and dirty hand-to-hand combat are back in fashion instead of massive explosions and other wild special effects.
Safe House, starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, is an obvious example of this new direction, right down to the grainy photography (let’s call it surveillance camera chic), and the emphasis on providing background on our protagonists.
Matt Weston (Reynolds) is a rookie CIA agent given the lowest level of assignment, keeping an eye on a safe house in South Africa. It’s an assignment that provides mostly boredom, since for the past year the room has had no occupants.
However, that changes radically when one of the biggest traitors in U.S. history, legendary rogue agent Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington), is delivered to the safe house. Suddenly Weston is thrust into the middle of the action. It was where he thought he wanted to be, but his lack of experience will soon be a hindrance when the assassination team trying to take out Frost breaches this not-so-safe house and the wily Frost and the kid are on the run together.
The usual clichés surface during the action. We know that Frost isn’t exactly the traitor he has been betrayed as, but rather that he is dangerous because he has info on all the dirty agents in the CIA, British Intelligence and other international organizations.
Naturally the dirty CIA guy is trying to kill Frost rather than capture him and we have a choice of three CIA bigwigs with a hidden agenda, played by Brendan Gleason, Sam Shepherd and Vera Farmiga. Frankly, the bad guy was pretty easy to spot.
Still, thanks to a couple of excellent actors in Washington and Reynolds, Safe House provides the type of enjoyable performances that allow us to forgive the by-the-book nature of the story and a finale that should surprise no one.
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