Safe House. Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds team up to deliver this surprisingly good February release. The premise is fairly simple. Ryan Reynolds stars as an underated CIA operative who’s been assigned as the sole guard for a safe house in Capetown, South Africa. In his 12 month time there, he’s never had a “guest.” Well, looks like it’s time to change that!
Denzel stars as former CIA agent and general traitor to the US of A. The CIA get their hands on him and he lands in Reynolds’ safe house. In about 5 seconds though, it gets real and the safe house gets attacked, leaving Reynolds to both protect and hold Denzel. The rest of the movie seeks to answer 1.) what did Denzel do, 2.) how will Reynolds manage to hold this infamous criminal, and 3.) how did anyone even know where the safe house is… The journey to these answers is a pretty enjoyable one.
What works? Both Reynolds and Washington fit their parts perfectly. Denzel has mastered the witty, devious, and charismatic anti-hero (see American Gangster, Training Day). It’s hard to hate him when he’s just so damn cool. Reynolds plays a much less confident character that I’m used to. He actually convinced me that he had no idea what he was doing (as a character). It’s really interesting to watch their two extremes merge towards the middle, as you begin to see the humanity in Denzel’s character and the shades of gray that begin to dominate Reynolds’ life of black and whites. They didn’t beat you over the head but kindly nudged you with the theme of “You do what you have to do.” Watching Reynolds discover this truth and struggle with maintaining his humanity was extremely engaging.
The action scenes were suspenseful though a little sparse. There were a few races and a few shootouts but it wasn’t as heavy on the action as you would expect. It’s quality though.
What doesn’t work? When I say that the action scenes were sparse, that means that something else took up a chunk of screentime. I personally could appreciate the scenes that slowed down and allowed us to watch Reynolds struggle, but it definitely changed the pace of the film and the casual moviegoer that wants a nonstop action flick may be taken out of the movie during this introspective moments. Again, I didn’t mind, but others might see this as a deterrent.
I enjoyed it, more than I thought I would. Though it’s not a roller coaster of action, so have expectations that the movie will ebb and flow.