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The Reel Deal : Safe House

by Seth Childers

For action thriller movies to get people interested these days directors have to hire big names for their movies. In this case, we have Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds together in “Safe House,” a thriller about a rookie-CIA agent who is tasked with looking after a professional criminal after their safe house is breached.

The two actors manage to give equally great performances and are enjoyable to watch, but unfortunately they can only do so much to improve a movie with a familiar and underdeveloped plot with some occasionally confusing action scenes that make for what can only be described as an uneven experience.

The film’s story focuses on Matt Weston, an operative for the CIA who works at a safe house with hardly any line of work to do. His job gets more interesting, however, when one day the CIA brings in a professional criminal named Tobin Frost. He is an ex-CIA agent who went rogue and stole a secret file and also killed several members of the CIA.

While the agents are trying to interrogate Frost, their safe house is suddenly ambushed, and Weston is forced to take Frost out on his own. Out in the open with no resources and a professional criminal who is a master of manipulating people to his advantage, Weston has to struggle to bring Frost to justice, only to find that there may be more to Frost’s past than he realizes.

Despite the familiarity of this scenario, the interactions between Tobin and Matt are the most interesting parts of Safe House. Tobin Frost is at first an interesting character, and the moments where you’re not sure what he is planning next make for a few good scenes. Unfortunately, this is just about as interesting or as deep as the story of Safe House gets. Though the movie does try to tell a decent story with drama and mystery, it ends up being underdeveloped and predictable.

The mystery behind Tobin’s motives is very familiar to those who have seen many thrillers, a plot point with Matt’s girlfriend is shallow and has little relevance to the story, and there are some occasional moments where the story begins to drag. Making things worse is a very predictable twist at the end that some people will see coming a mile away.

To the movie’s credit, I did enjoy watching it while it lasted. Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds make the most out of their scenes, and the two have a great chemistry that makes the story more engaging. The story on the other hand, is less so. The action does have its moments, but you’ll have to wrestle with the cinematography at times to enjoy them.

Safe House borrows heavily from better made thrillers but adds very little in terms of originality, and is nowhere near close to the effort that its two leading actors put into it.

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