<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Daniel Espinosa. Starring Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Brendan Gleeson, Vera Farmiga.
Packed with ear pounding action, solid performances and a tight script, Safe House is a must watch.
There’s a line in the film where a character in the film calls Denzel’s character ‘the black Dorian Gray’ (referring to the literary character who remains eternally beautiful but gets uglier on the inside). The reference to Denzel’s ‘beauty’ is bang on. This man looks amazing at 57. And boy can he carry off a performance.
The story is about a CIA operative who went rogue called Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) and a Safe House Keeper Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) who must take care of his ‘guest’ Mr Frost who has surrendered himself at the US Consulate in South Africa after evading some other gun toting baddies who are after some information he has. But before Frost can be whisked away to America, the Safe House is breached and Tobin and Matt must escape.
Matt, the low-level operative is entrusted to keeping the high-level asset Tobin safely in his custody. But when he loses him the CIA tell him to chill out and ‘they’ll take it from here’. But Tobin has planted a seed of doubt in Matt’s mind. There must be a traitor who divulged the safe house’s location. Gradually, after deception and escape and re-capture, the two form a bond, a sort of unofficial alliance. It’s not the typical, okay we’re pals now sort of relationship. Right until the end you don’t know if Tobin is going to stab him in the back or leave him for dead.
Gritty cinematography, awesome sound design and neat plot twists keep you riveted. Safe House doesn’t have a new story, but the execution is brilliant. The action is fast-paced. At one point a bullet discharges all of a sudden hitting Tobin’s forger friend and you feel like it has been fired from just above your ear. I started in my seat!
Denzel Washington plays Tobin Frost with calculated straight-faced coldness. He knows what he’s doing at every step and does it with subtlety and confidence. So when he is confronted with a good friend’s death and reacts with vengeance a bit later, it makes it even that more intense. Ryan Reynolds as the newbie wanting to rise up the ranks and do the right thing is suitably convincing. In fact, he’s pretty good. No more rom-coms and superhero movies for him, thank you very much.