Safe House is movie for those who wish espionage was this exciting. Maybe the director, Daniel Espinosa, should have viewed Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy beforehand to get clearer perspective on the reality of spy land or maybe not because he certainly would have fallen asleep 10 minutes in. I can't accuse this movie of that sort of tedium but it is certainly guilty of being mentally impotent.
It's star Denzel Washington has been going strong now for 3 decades and his face has become a staple of gritty action films. He is good here but brings nothing really new to the table. You suspect from the first minute of the film, for him to actually be a good guy trying to bring down the establishment. Ironically the trailer tries to sell the film by showcasing him as the bad guy most likely do to his successful turn in Training Day.
The plot is extremely easy to follow because the action never stops to let you think about it - every time the story slows down for a second someone gets shot by a surprise bullet and the audience gets a an audible blowout. The style of filmmaking here is so nausea inducing- it feels like a number of Peter Berg's atrocious attempts at filming action scenes. Apparently the only way to engage an audience with action these days is to move the camera around so incomprehensibly and edit so quickly that you could probably be filming a 90 year old woman picking out a ripe tomato on the street corner and I wouldn't be able to tell that you just tricked me into believing that it was Ryan Reynolds grabbing for his gun and shooting three people in the face. The only successful director I can think of that utilizes his cameraman in this fashion and makes it a joy to watch is Paul Greengrass. The last two Bourne films and the underrated Green Zone are a credit to his brilliant use of this effect.
The movie rehashes a number of espionage cliches and felt for me to be chore to sit through. Denzel is bad but not really yet he does kill and seems to feel no remorse which makes it difficult for an audience to decide. Reynolds is a good guy who is green and comes to see the light once presented the facts. The most unlikely person and the most likely turn out to be bad. CIA bad - Government bad - all people good.The most unlikely people to get shot get shot. It's a typical Hollywood script with your "oh shit" and "ah ha" moments. Save your money and catch some Greengrass or opt for some older Denzel.
Recommended Viewing: Green Zone - Out Of Time - Salt
Bob Scale: Objective: 6.0 - Subjective: 5.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 52