Nothing is as it seems. Although it is a classic theme in cinema, “Safe House” manages to bring new life to an old concept. With more realistic actions and well-developed characters, the movie requires little willing suspension of disbelief.
Starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, Safe House tells the story of a former CIA agent, Tobin Frost. (Washington), who has apparently gone rogue. Meanwhile, up-and-comer Matt Weston (Reynolds) is trying to get out of “house sitting” a CIA post in Cape Town, South Africa. Weston wants to be a hands-on guy, a real agent who serves his wonderful government. Despite the seeming age gap between the actor and the character, Reynolds succeeds in conveying the youthful naiveté of Weston.
Washington, the most veteran actor of the cast, dominates all of his scenes. Playing calm and misunderstood Frost, the audience sees classic Denzel. Even when he is the enemy, his charisma leaves the viewer hoping he wins. This is where the obvious argument begins: can Ryan Reynolds hold his own against Denzel Washington? Of course this question relies at least partially on personal opinion, though it is still hard to deny that one roots for Weston to win, too. Reynolds uses his vulnerability to gain the sympathy of the audience. As his character grows throughout “Safe House”, Reynolds makes it clear that Weston is not changing from an inexperienced rookie to a strong jaded government agent overnight. The viewer watches as Weston copes with the knowledge he is gaining and how it shatters the very foundation his life and career have been built upon.
The supporting cast proves equally important. In general, the higher ranks are filled with drab, cold people who only care about catching Frost and saving face. Though these qualities make the scenes in Langley, Va less thrilling, they are vital to the story of Frost and Weston.
Overall, “Safe House” takes a tired story and makes it fresh. Mixed with a few twists and believable action sequences, the film achieves its goal of a thrilling action flick.
Photo courtesy Universal Studios