Review: Safe House

A mess of a thriller that had good intentions but just boils itself down to a generic action venture.

You know its bad when you start writing the review before the film’s even finished.

Ryan Reynolds plays Matt, a low ranking CIA officer in charge of one of many safe houses and is looking for a promotion. As fate would have it, the CIA have to put a high-risk target in his care, an information trader Torbin Frost (Denzel Washington). But when the safe house is attacked, he goes on the run with a reluctant Torbin.

Honestly, the concept intrigued me. We have Reynolds and Washington playing roles fitted perfectly for them, a possibly dialogue-heavy thriller with a potentially claustrophobic atmosphere, a “safe house” (the clue is in the name…)
But no… the actual safe house barely features after the fifteen minute mark, and after that the film becomes an off-the-rails action chase film of the mid 1990s. We have constant car chases, constant gun fights and betrayals, our hero Matt (and the audience by extension) totally in the dark as to who persistently finds them, attacks them and attempts to kill them. Even Washington, doing his usual best, can’t recover this uninteresting sequence of chases; so little of the film is dedicated to slowing down and letting the characters breathe.

For a thriller that obviously wants to keep you in the dark, by doing so it in fact makes itself incredibly predictable. With so few potential masterminds, and the ridiculous amounts of foreshadowing, you will know why everything is happening and who is behind it all long before Matt ever does.

A missed opportunity if ever there was one. This could have been a great example of characters parrying and fighting with words, involving mind games and intrigue (they set it up as much!) but it all dissolves into a noisy, rapidly edited action sequence. Quite disappointing.

I give it two cocoa cups mostly because of the two leads, who do fit their roles well and play it out perfectly for what they have been given!


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