Monday, 13 February 2012

Safe House Review

This is what happens when you  make a movie using only that iPhone app that hipsters use because they think it makes their pictures look all cool and retro.  Instead, you get pictures that are just annoying to look at.  And, as long as they continue to use shaky camera work and unnecessary and awkward closeups, I will continue to bitch about it.  Those two things take away from what is otherwise a very believable and plausible situation.  And those two things (one thing really - the film making) are the only problem with this movie.

It is a terrific story with a Jason Bourne feel to it.  A young, unproven CIA agent whose only job is to babysit a seldom used safe house is thrust into trying to bring in one of the CIA's most wanted men.  What ensues is well placed and judiciously used action mixed in with very tense buildup throughout.  There are only a couple of times where it slows down a little too much but they are short scenes that don't dwell on making the story too human and moral.  With a film like this it would be easy to use the Tobin Frost and Matt Weston as a morality play about shades of grey and by the book isn't always right.  And while they do a little of that, they do not hit you over the head with it.

The acting is really good up and down the entire cast.  I'm not a huge Denzel fan.  While I do think he's a terrific actor, I also think that he's one of the unfortunate ones that has gotten too big for his roles and you seldom get past the fact that you're watching Denzel instead of a good performance.  Here, you forget you're watching Denzel.  He does a great job with the calm and collected "been there, done that" CIA veteran role.  Ryan Reynolds' performance was only slightly below that in calibre.  We all know Reynolds as being at his best when he can be a wisecracking, cocky guy.  But, through this and his performance in Buried, he's showing that he has some pretty good range.  And while I don't think their interaction is as good as that between Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx in Collateral, it is still quite strong.  (Collateral wasn't a great movie.  But I thought the dialogue between the two was great.)

Finally, I want to mention the location.  For a spy movie in today's political climate, it is easy to just make it happen in Syria or somewhere else in the Middle East.  Or, you could find some exotic European or Asian location.  Setting this in South Africa was brilliant.  It is just exotic enough to hold our interest but it lends that bleak, poverty aspect that keeps it grounded from becoming too Bondesque.

See it.  If you like that surreal, saturated look and shaky camera work, this will be right up your alley.  If you can get put up with it, it is definitely worth your time for the tension, great story and strong performances.

1 comment:

  1. It’s a serviceable thriller that should satisfy those late winter cravings from action fans who haven’t seen enough bullets and fists flying onscreen. Nothing special but Reynolds and Washington make it better than it has any right to be. Good review Chupie. Check out mine when you can.