Studio: Universal Pictures (115 min)
Plot: A young CIA agent is tasked with looking after a fugitive in a safe house. But when the safe house is attacked, he finds himself on the run with the fugitive.
Cast: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard
Bottom Line: ***1/2
By Samantha Ofole-Prince
A thriller with grit and intrigue, Denzel Washington plays the CIA’s most dangerous traitor, Tobin Frost, who stuns the intelligence community when he surfaces in South Africa.
When the safe house to which he’s remanded is attacked by brutal mercenaries, a rookie (Ryan Reynolds) is forced to help him escape. It’s kill or be killed, so joining forces, the duo are forced to track down the mercenaries who want them dead.
A globe-trotting thriller directed by Daniel Espinosa, Washington is absolutely convincing as he submerges himself in the role of a traitor on the run, and certainly keeps the international intrigue and testosterone flowing despite a formulaic plot.
“Denzel is a master,” shares Espinosa. “He works harder than any actor I’ve ever met and when he decided to do the movie, he thoroughly researched and spent about a half a year studying his character before we even shot. When he got on set, no matter what the situation in front of him was, he reacted as the character that he was playing.”
Driven more by character than plot, it effectively establishes a real sense of time, as we follow Frost (Washington), an ex-intelligence officer, who is wanted for espionage on four continents and has eluded capture for almost a decade. He has given up his ideology, his country, and turned cynical, because he believes the world to be cynical, and he no longer plays by the rules. He scales roof tops, has gun fights, hand-to-hand fights, knife fights and car chases – all unpolished and intense action, which is guaranteed to keep audiences glued to their screens.
Filmed on location in South Africa, Paris and Washington, D.C., it’s a suspenseful thriller that showcases stunning visuals.
Joining Washington and Reynolds is Vera Farmiga (“Up in the Air”) as CIA Branch Chief Catherine Linklater while Sam Shepard, Brendan Gleeson and Irish performer Liam Cunningham as Alec Wade, a disillusioned MI6 operative, round up the cast.
“Safe House” seamlessly merges corruption and action and is a sleek espionage thriller that’s worth a trip to the theater.
This was printed in the February 26, 2012 - March 10, 2012 Edition