“Safe House” – Review by MovieManMenzel

A sloppy and predictable action story with some solid performances.

Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) is the world’s most notorious CIA agent gone rogue. He is almost impossible to catch, but manages to get caught. This is where the fun is suppose to begin as Tobin is transported to a safe house where he is to be interrogated and imprisoned. Matt (Ryan Reynolds) works at the safe house as security camera operator, but it isn’t long before things don’t go according to plan. As various men infiltrate the safe house and have killed everyone, Matt and Tobin must fight for their lives and escape. This is where the two must team up and soon learn the real story behind why everyone is out to get Tobin Frost.

Safe House is yet another typical action film. The movie is loaded with explosions and sound effects so loud that they could shatter your eardrums. This film follows the same story as seen at least 50 times before where Tobin Frost is an ex CIA agent gone rogue and the movie unfolds the real story as it goes along. * Yawn * What makes this even worse than just having the same typical storyline is the fact that this movie gives the entire film away within the first 5 minutes of the movie. This leaves the story with no other suspense other than the extremely loud sound effects that made me anger rather then excited.

The problem with the film isn’t its actors. Denzel Washington really doesn’t have a hard time playing this type of character and does a great job playing Tobin Frost. The problem is that his character lacks depth and substance. It seems that all Denzel has to do is play a cool “bad guy” character and smile. I can’t even begin to count the amount of times that Denzel just seems to smile at the camera in this film. It was like “Wow. That man has some pearly whites. Oh wait. That’s right there is action going on. Let me attempt to get back into it.”

Ryan Reynolds is also surprisingly decent in the film. I really appreciate how he is attempting to try something different outside of the sarcastic comedic figure that he normally plays. He is good here, but again, the script isn’t so it doesn’t give him as much potential as he needs to really shine. Along with Washington and Reynolds, we also have Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, and Sam Shepard all of whom are wasted in the film. These are all solid actors, but their supporting roles don’t use them well at all. They are all extremely lackluster.

The pacing for me worked, but again it really got me involved with this movie. The film is non-stop action, which is a huge problem because it was used as a way to cover up how this movie really didn’t know where to go. As the movie leads up to its climax, the film never felt suspenseful although it didn’t make me feel bored as when I was watching Contraband last month. It held my attention, but failed to interest me, which is an odd combination I know, but I think that just shows the screen power of Denzel Washington to me honest.

This movie looks and feels like a half assed Tony Scott film. The direction style almost perfectly mocks Scott and it seems like Daniel Espinosa said to himself “Hey, this works in a lot of films, let me try it.” This was a huge issue for me because it totally seemed like he was trying to direct the film is a unique way, but instead it failed. This wasn’t gritty at all even though it wanted to be. It tried and really failed on that.

While I know it seems like I am being really harsh on this film, I think the main problem is that there is so little that is done anymore with action films. The stories are so blah and lack substance. It also doesn’t help that since December of 2011, I feel studios have released an action movie each week, which have made me become much more critical and bored of them. If Safe House was the first out the door, I think I would have had a more passive review, but now I feel as if I saw this film already this year and just wasn’t interested. I also have to admit that this is one movie that I have increasingly disliked more and more each day after seeing it in the theater. I left thinking that was decent and now have come down to the idea that is was really predictable, stupid, and rather dull.

At the end of the day, I still think that Safe House is an alright action film. It’s just another one that falls into the horribly average category. It’s a step above Contraband and Man on a Ledge, but lacks the character, entertainment value, and fun that made Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol the one action flick over the past few months that audiences really seemed to appreciate. Denzel and Ryan are both really solid in the film and the movie moves along nicely, but it’s the story, direction, predictability, and lack of substance that make this movie one that after a few more films you will completely forget about. I really hope this string of action film releases stop because I am so tired of each week another mediocre action movie surfaces from the studios. I think we can all use a break from this genre and lets leave it up to the pros who will bring us The Avengers, The Bourne Legacy, and The Dark Knight Rises this summer.

MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Safe House is a 5.5 out of 10. I was going to give it a solid 6, but after much thought I couldn’t give it a full number grade.

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