Denzel Washington doesn’t mind playing the bad guy or the anti-hero. Hey, it got him an Academy Award for “Training Day.” In “Safe House” he plays Tobin Frost, an ex-CIA agent turned international criminal. Or, is he?
Frost acquires secret files from a rogue British agent, but must duck into the U.S. Consulate building in Capetown, South Africa to escape a gang of mercenaries led by Vargas (Fares Fares).
Frost is sent by the agency to a safe house in Capetown, run by Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds). Before he can be waterboarded, the safe house is attacked by Vargas, forcing Weston and Frost to go on the run.
Despite the usual excellent performance from Washington, “Safe House” is burned to the ground with numerous problems.
Director Daniel Espinosa shows his fondness for Tony Scott’s shaky-cam tint-o-rama method of directing. Choppy editing, a shaky camera and darkened daytime scenes are extremely annoying, especially when combined with a weak script and predictable characters.
Ryan Reynolds is so badly miscast. He has a knack for comedy, but this venture into the action genre shows he should stick with what made him successful, or at least find a director who can adequately shape a dramatic performance from him. He looks lost in “Safe House.”
Most moviegoers will be able to recognize the guy pulling the strings behind the scenes long before his/her identity is revealed. The more apparent villian is not much more than a thug.
And, the director fails to properly include Capetown into the story. This is one beautiful South African city, and except for an establishing shot at the beginning of the film, “Safe House” is not very flattering to the region. In fact, with all the tinting of the daytime scenes, you wonder if the sun even comes out in one of Africa’s largest cities.
“Safe House” is dark, damp and full of mold. Grade: D+