Denzel plays it cool – and safe
THE BEST THING bout Safe House is that it’s a safe, popcorn option. Ditto the worst thing about Safe House.
The co-star could easily be Chris Pine in Unstoppable or Ethan Hawke in Training Day. But this time out Ryan Reynolds (always a pleasure, unless wearing a green suit) gets to play second banana to Denzel Washington’s cool-headed action man.
As ever, for the run time, Denzel is cool. Denzel knows he’s cool. Everybody in the movie thinks so too. “It’s the black Dorian Grey,” says an old espionage contact as Denzel, a rogue agent on the run from the CIA and an assortment of international baddies, rocks on up to his hideout. Looking cool.
Here comes the science bit. Denzel, a longtime awol CIA op, acquires some class of super file from rogue M16 agent Liam Cunningham. Villains give chase and Denzel finds himself in the custody of Robert Patrick.
Reynolds is the “housekeeper” at a Cape Town safe house where Denzel is escorted for a robust debriefing. Within nanoseconds the facility is attacked, leaving Reynolds and his houseguest on the lam, with senior CIA wonks Brendan Gleeson and Vera Farmiga in hot pursuit. High-speed pursuits and double crosses ensue.
At least we think they do. There are so many fast cuts in Swedish director Daniel Espinosa’s fun, if disposable, concoction that it can be hard to tell. A strong cast adds gravitas to what mostly amounts to a series of car chases. The film powers along, time-passingly well, without ever shifting gear. Still. Fast is good.
Rogue male: Denzel Washington gets it on with the CIA in Safe House
Directed by Daniel Espinosa. Starring Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard, Ruben Blades, Robert Patrick, Nora Arnezeder, Liam Cunningham