When it comes to film, it’s often hard to imagine Ryan Reynolds in more serious fare. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have that kind of work on his resume. Safe House, a 2012 thriller starring Denzel Washington and the aforementioned Deadpool, easily lands on that list and proves that both actors have the skills to pull off pretty much anything. As a film, Safe House works, even if it doesn’t really break any new ground while it does so.
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The Movie Review
As the name implies, Safe House is about a CIA “safe house” – a secret location wherein all kinds of things go down, including interrogations as shown in the film – where we first meet our heroes attempting to get information out of an agency turncoat. While doing so, the supposedly secret safe house is attacked and we then begin our romp through Cape Town in a mixture of James Bond-style action and some elements of a whodunit.
What’s interesting here is that, again, turning to our heroes, we’re shown a somewhat gray version of right and wrong. There’s little doubt that the protagonists and antagonists take the gravity of the situation seriously and the audience does so as well by extension but we’re never really clear on what, exactly, the good guys are fighting to prevent.
Without delving into spoilers, it all centers around data security which makes the ensuing brutality that much more interesting from a moral perspective. Do heroes act questionably in the pursuit of the end goal? Is it worth hurting a few people to protect the many?
Of course, the film doesn’t dwell on these subjects, and we’re glad it doesn’t, but the early 2010’s obsession with gray morality is here at scale. Again, Safe House isn’t doing anything totally out there for its genre and it doesn’t break the rules per se but it also doesn’t play it safe.
Again, we appreciate the general tone here which could easily veer into edge and cringey earnestness that deflates the weight of the situation and slows down the pace of the film.
On this last note, the pacing of the film is taut and tight, pushing audiences to pay attention. Don’t worry if you can’t keep up, there’s a lot going on and the exposition isn’t always on top of the shifting narrative sands.
Overall, however, the movie rewards people who pay attention but also serves as an entertaining vehicle for people just looking to pass the time. The actors really stand out here not only for their talent but also for their immediate relatability.
Normally this would take the audience out of the action but here it serves as a kind of warm blanket to help someone position themselves within the broader world. That is, we don’t worry so much about what’s going on because we know Denzel Washington is going to deliver. Cinematography, sound, and dialogue don’t miss although it can seem somewhat frenzied at moments.
- Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington help carry this film
- Fun action, light plot details keep it moving
- Thrilling but grounded
- If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all
- Doesn’t do the best job at explaining the “why” of it all
- Characters are here and then gone, most being unmemorable