Film: “Safe House” solid action or tired cliche?
February 17th, 2012
Omaha, NE – In the mood for some action with a side of recycled characters? From the Movieha podcast, Ryan Syrek and Matt Lockwood have this review of Safe House.
Ryan: Hey, remember when Denzel Washington was the type of actor who challenged himself and won awards and whatnot?
Matt: No. But I do remember when Ryan Reynolds made the life-altering emotional epic that was The Green Lantern.
Ryan: What youâ€™re telling me is that a movie that pairs these two together is definitely going to be a dense and thoughtful exploration of humanity written by a MENSA member.
Matt: Nope, itâ€™s a hackneyed â€œwatch things blow upâ€ predictable thriller that probably never had a full script, just stage directions like â€œlook mad when you get shot.â€
Ryan: Reynolds plays a noob CIA agent who is stuck at the spy equivalent of latrine duty, as heâ€™s wasting away in South Africa guarding a fake office designed to house any spy that needs it.
Matt: Everything is quiet…too quiet…until Tobin Frost, played by Washington, shows up. Frost used to be a good guy but is now a bad guy. Actually heâ€™s kind of a good bad guy, not an all bad bad guy, but he still shoots people in the face.
Ryan: The duo find themselves on the run together, fighting one another, and trying to figure out who the dirty rat is inside the CIA.
Matt: Although this wasnâ€™t directed by Tony Scott, Washingtonâ€™s frequent collaborator, it sure looks like it was, with itâ€™s grainy visuals and shaky-cam cinematography. The action isnâ€™t quite edited by a blender like in the Bourne movies, but itâ€™s definitely a distant cousin of that series.
Ryan: Washington has reduced his presence on screen to a series of smiles and repeated gestures, almost a caricature of himself at this point, while Reynolds is bland without being able to use his well-known sarcastic wit. Thereâ€™s a macguffin in the form of a secret file, which is almost as cliched and tired as the rooftop chase and unsurprising double cross.
Matt: Yeah, but did you really expect something more? Itâ€™s like when youâ€™re hungry, sometimes youâ€™re in the mood for a big meal and sometimes youâ€™re just in the mood for a snack. This is definitely no fine cut of prime rib, itâ€™s more like a slim jim, but itâ€™s tasty just the same.
Ryan: To a degree, I can see what youâ€™re saying. It does deliver solid action, itâ€™s quickly paced and never boring, and itâ€™s competently made. But I guess I just need something a little more filling. I donâ€™t want to snap into this slim jim, Iâ€™d prefer to find another tasty treat.
Matt: Are we still talking about movies, because Iâ€™m getting hungry.
Ryan: Sorry buddy. Sounds like weâ€™re somewhat split on this one, so it all comes down to what youâ€™re in the mood for.
Editorial note: The Movieha podcast is produced in partnership with The Reader and is available at thereader.com.
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