Safe House

Denzel authors another bad ass.

This time it’s Tobin Frost. CIA legend. Frost was a high-profile agent who specialized in interrogation. He later defected and has been on the run and off the grid for nearly a decade. Suddenly he shows up at a US Consolate office and turns himself in.

He’s brought to a CIA safe house run by rookie Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds). When the safe house is breached, Weston is forced to grab Tobin and go on the run.

Let the games begin.

“Safe House” begins at a pretty high level. After a brief period where they establish Reynolds’ character and his situation, Denzel is brought in in cuffs by a CIA interrogation team. As they start to go to work on him however, the safe house is stormed. As shown in the trailer, Denzel talks the confused and nervous Reynolds through his decision tree. Confronted with the situation and Denzel’s logic, Reynolds grabs him and flees. He steals a car, puts Denzel in the trunk, and takes off. A high-speed chase ensues, but once they’re able to evade their pursuers, Reynolds takes Denzel out of the trunk. As Reynolds checks in with his CIA superiors, Denzel begins to figure out the double-crossing that HAS to have taken place.

At this point in the movie, I was really wondering if I was in for an A range movie. Unfortunately, that’s kind of the best part of the movie. Not that “Safe House” is ever BAD per se, but it does get pretty standard at times. Whereas I thought I was getting a Hannibal Lecter / Clarice Starling type mental chess game film, within the context of an action movie. Instead what we got was really a bit of a Jason Bourne lite with some clever moments woven in throughout.

It’s not to demean the movie. I thought it was well done, even though it utilizes the “modern” quick cut shaky cam style of action that creates the action illusion without really creating that much quality action. The action scenes were fine, and there were some really, really cool moments were Denzel is just way too smart. I want to see him facing off against Liam Neeson. In fact, I demand it. Why can’t Hollywood just make that happen? How is it I come up with better ideas than they do?


It’s not bad, it just doesn’t reach its potential. Reynolds is the lead, and that’s wrong. This movie would have been ten times better with just Denzel getting captured, escaping, etc. Focused entirely on him it would be a big improvement. Even if they kept the core story as it was, if they had chosen to tone down the action and focus instead on the betrayal conspiracy and having Denzel work Reynolds through it like a marionette, I think that would have been better. As it is, even though it was decent, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it could have been better. It gives you tantalizing glimpses of what it could have gotten with this cast and this high concept, but then turns around and gives you a movie that feels like a movie you’ve seen a dozen times.

Especially the ending. I’m not going to divulge any spoilers, lets just suffice it to say that I wasn’t very impressed with the film’s third act. Especially the conclusion.

Still, as many people mentioned in this week’s discussion thread, its great to just watch Denzel do his thing. And he does get a handful of really bad ass moments. The action sequences are all good, even though no one will talk about them in two weeks. If the plot had been a little stronger, and they had given us a little more of what we came for, “Safe House” could have been really good.

As it is, I give it a B

26 thoughts on “Safe House

  1. Sounds like what I expected. I might catch it on DVD at some point.

    By the way, they should totally hire you to work in Hollywood. Neeson and Washington together sounds like an epic combination!

    • I’m actually framing the screenplay in my head now.

      I’m calling it “Rock, Paper, Scissors”

      I dont know what the F it will be about, but there’s some high stakes situation that these two wind up throwing Rock Paper Scissors in the climax of the movie. They size each other up for 30 seconds before they even talk, and then Denzel cracks that “I’m gonna &$%# with this guy” smile and tells Neeson

      Denzel: “I bet you’re a rock kind of guy” (big smile)

      Neeson: “Oh? What makes you say that?” (polite little smile, half squint)

      Denzel: “I just do.”

      Ten seconds more of sizing each other up…

      Denzel: “Definitely, Yeahhhhh…” (pointing) “Rock.”

      Neeson: Little smirk… “So, then. You must prefer paper.”

      Denzel: “OHHHH!! PAper!!” (Laughing) “Yeahhhh. Paper’s good. I like paper…”

      LOL… The scene runs 20 minutes before they finally throw, but it’s awesome.

  2. It’s nice when the plot is more fleshed out and characters can play off one another a bit more a la Clarice/ Hannibal as Fogs mentions. I will still see this one even though it could have been better ; it may be a rental.

    Regarding Fogs’ idea Denzel vs. Liam Neeson, I would absolutely pay for the privilege of that movie provided the plot and characters are worthy of D and L. Sounds AWESOME! Nice idea Fogs; thanks for the straight talk on this post.

    • Yeah, I wish the news was better to report. But it wasnt bad. I enjoyed it enough.

      Meanwhile, no joke. “Rock Paper Scissors” starring Denzel Washington and Liam Neeson. Why is Hollywood full of such morons that they dont come up with no brainer shit like this themselves.

      See above for part 1. You think it couldnt run 20 minutes? Pfft… like ten minutes in they’re saying

      Denzel: “So what then? We just throw on three. Right? You”re saying we throw on three?”

      Neeson: “We dont have to throw on three.”

      Another splice back and forth with them smiling their “I’m badder than you smiles” at each other…

      Neeson: “The three count makes you nervous, is that it then?”

      Denzel: “See I KNEW it. You’re a scissors guy! That’s the type of stuff Scissors Guys SAY!”

      • Love this! Although of course in the end, they both have to throw something other than rock paper or scissors– Cannonball and Forcefield? Or is that too on the nose? Probably better to have it be something as everyday as rock paper scissors, but totally unexpected.

    • I wasn’t feeling all the octane I guess. LOL. It had its moments.

      The major issue I had was some of the cliches toward the end. It kind of developed a flat tire.

      ::shrugs::a B isnt that bad a grade either…

  3. I think you were too hard on the movie, but then again you have to be more critical than we average viewers,and I mean that. For pure entertainment, I have to give it an A -, even though I guessed who was one of the moles early in the movie. I was exhausted after all the action in this flic. GOOD CRTICAL REVIEW.

    • It was hard NOT to guess who it was LOL.

      Anyways, you don’t have to sugar coat it if you disagree. It’s all good. I had some serious problems with some of the cliches that popped up late in the flick. At the end, there were a lot of thing that disappointing…

      Glad you enjoyed it! I didn’t think it was bad by any means…

  4. Yeah, I’ll pass on this film. Rental at best for me based on the reviews I read. Glad you enjoyed it for the most part though. I think I’ll just watch some John Woo films LOL. Nice Blade Runner pic btw! I’m going to check out that MTESS post of it soon.

    • Oh! Cool. Hope you do man. I really like that one… think it came out pretty well.

      I’ll be announcing it here soon/trying to “mobilize the troops” but that was my choice for the new Movie of the Month format at the Lamb, where you have to “Champion” a movie, and the winner gets an automatic spot on the Movie of the Month Lambcast. So… Blade Runner is going to see a big push around here soon. LOL 😀

  5. I went to watch Safe House today. I agree with you in the fact that the movie was not that bad. The movie did focus toward Reynolds more than Washington…could it be because he is younger and hotter…maybe. When Washington is the co-star, the main star needs to bring it..HARD! LOL. I’m not too sure if Reynolds did that, but with all these cool action scenes, it was pretty hard to tell. Reynolds did cry a lot, didn’t he?

    AND the ending…wtf! Really…are we really going to do that to him? That seemed lame on how the shootout went down. I really want to say it out loud, but I don’t want to spoil it to others either.

    I agree…Neeson and Washington…how can we make this happen!

    • “Reynolds did cry a lot, didn’t he?”

      Yeah, he was a bit of a Pansy til the end there. LOL. 😀

      And “Lame” is the operative word that I felt throughout most of that finale. There was that one “bad ass” moment where Denzel just walks across the hall and shoots that dude, but after that…

      As to Neeson and Washington, I’m telling you. “Rock Paper Scissors”, I think it can work. I have it framed in my head. Check out the comments above.

      At the 15 minute mark in the scene they’re discussing whether or not to go two out of three:

      Denzel: So you’re a two out of three guy?

      Neeson: I never said that

      Denzel: You never said that… you said that. Come on. You know you said that… playin’ games.

      Neeson: Oh. I’m playing games now?

      Denzel: You been playing nothing BUT games. Tellin’ me you never said you want to go two out of three! Every goes TWO out of THREE.

      Neeson: You like to size your opponent up, based on their first throw.

      Denzel: I dont need to size you up. I got you sized up already.

  6. I love Denzel but this looks like a pretty generic action-thriller and having Reynolds as the lead instead of Washington just feels wrong. Definitely will rent it as soon as it hits Netflix though 😉

  7. From what I could gather watching the trailer, it seems that Denzel gives a pretty strong performance but, like you said, Reynolds is the problem. I need to see it for myself though.

    Good review Dan!

    • Wellllll…. I dont know that Reynolds is the problemmmm….

      I think the problem is that instead of giving Denzel’s character 100% of the plot, like, say, “Taken”, they give him 50% or whatever it turns out to be.

      I dont think Reynolds was bad in what he was asked to do, he was fine. But any random actir there is going to be stealing from the stronger character. Thats how I saw it.

  8. a B works for me. I look forward to it coming this side of the pond.

    I am actually pretty bored of the shakey cam thing. I am blaming Bourne for this… Naughty Bourne. Bring back the camp action of Roger Moore!! heheh

    • Oh god no! LOL I had a vision of that cut in half car he drives in “A View to a Kill” Oh man….

      But I agree. I love it when I see an action movie film its action straight up. The last great example I can rememberoff the top of my head is Casino Royale, I’m sure there are others though!

  9. Sounds like what I was expecting. So it won’t stop me from seeing it in the cinema. The action looks fine, from the bits I’ve seen and read about. I’m not expecting this to change the face of action films today.

    Liam Neeson vs. Denzel Washington – make it happen!

    • Nice, nice. I hadn’t thought of this before, but check this now.

      LOVE this… (see above for parts 1-3)

      But in “Rock Paper Scissors”, when Denzel and Liam Nesson FINALLY throw? I want like a 7 second sequences where they throw the SAME THING like 5 times in a row. They both throw rock, they both throw rock, they both throw scissors, they both throw paper…

      Then they have to step back and start sizing each other up again.

      Denzel: Yeah. I knew you’d throw those like that… I had you pegged.

      Neeson: If you had me pegged, why didn’t you throw what would have beaten me then?

      Denzel: Yeahhhh… you’d have liked THAT. Then you’d have changed it up. I got you. You dont think I do, but I got you.

  10. Wow, this “Rock Paper Scissors” storyline/your script so far is brilliant! I want this to happen! I guess you’re review was good too 😉

    • I know right? Forget the review. I just want to keep writing “Rock Paper Scissors”

      You know there’s got to be like some scene where they’re ready to shoot, but all their henchman are standing in a circle around them and they all draw guns on each other as the two men are staring each other down, but neither of them flinches…

      I can see it, I’m telling you.

      Or maybe one of them was a serial killer and the other is the Detective. And the killer’s MO has been to force his victims to play Rock Paper Scissors for their lives, and now this is the climactic scene. 😀

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