Denzel Washington is as much an actor as a movie star and he invariably elevates whatever project he’s attached to. In the case of Safe House, a routine thriller goosed up with brutal violence and a high body count, a lot of heavy lifting is required. Washington stars as Robin Frost, a rogue CIA operative considered America’s number one traitor for the last decade. While doing a mysterious deal with an MI6 agent in South Africa, Frost finds himself being hunted by a murderous gang of thugs. Surrounded, he bolts into the American Embassy and surrenders, later to be taken to a safe house where an interrogation team is sent to “interview” him.
But the safe house isn’t so safe, and is soon raided by the same bad guys. Amidst the carnage the house manager – a CIA newbie named Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) – escapes with Frost. This precipitates an endless series of vertigo-inducing car chases and bloody shoot-em-ups as Weston gradually realizes that the attack on the safe house may have been an inside job and that there’s more to Frost than his bosses have told him. There’s lots of jittery hand-held camerawork in the Bourne style, but not enough to obscure how shallow the plot is. And the final five minutes are shamelessly bogus. Just the latest example of a slick B-movie with A-list actors. M
Safe House ★ ★ ½
Directed by Daniel Espinosa
Starring Denzel Washington, Vera Farmiga
R – 115 minutes
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