By Mykah Murphy — 03/01/12
These days, most action movies seem more or less the same. They feature a glorified montage of bullets, blood, car chases, and sex. It has been a while since a film has broken the mold, but Safe House seemed poised to be the one to do so.
Featuring an all-star cast, an exotic location, and a relatively unexplored premise, the film had potential to be quite exciting. Unfortunately, after about 5 minutes, that hope was quickly dispelled. The “new and exciting” façade quickly melted away to reveal a substandard, predictable, run-of-the-mill movie; a “safe” choice indeed.
Ryan Reynolds stars as rookie CIA agent Matt Weston. He is assigned to the mundane position of manning a safe house in Cape Town, South Africa. It is supposed to be used for the undercover interrogation and keeping of dangerous criminals. However, after nearly a year at his post, Weston is bored and restless; that is, until the mysterious arrival of Denzel Washington’s notoriously felonious character, Tobin Frost. Also featured are a few more familiar faces, such as Vera Farmiga (The Departed) and Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges).
Following the opening scenes, however, is an all-too-familiar plot line. Bullets are fired. The bad guys always miss despite having automatic weapons. The good guys shoot with striking accuracy and an apparently magical supply of never-ending ammunition. Criminals are wrongly accused and framed while dirty cops are exposed as traitors. On top of all everything, Ryan Reynolds is filmed shirtless within 5 minutes of the movie. The script even goes so far as to include tired cliché lines such as the angry, “Who do you work for?!” and the always mysterious, “‘How do I know I can trust you?’ ‘You don’t.'”
The movie is comprised of several choppily stitched together close-ups. While the forehead-to-chin shot can be highly useful in dramatic situations, it loses its appeal after being overused for two solid hours. Shooting on location in South Africa did provide some refreshing eye-candy. However, except for the scenery and Ryan Reynolds speaking a bit of Afrikaans, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before.