Safe House

Art & Culture

Set in South Africa, this action thriller, starring King of Cool, Denzel Washington, alternates between being a bog standard spy movie with car chases and multiple shootings; and being a reasonably interesting and intelligent film. Ryan Reynolds is a young CIA agent sitting in a  safe house in Capetown with nothing to do, apart from talk to his girlfriend. Then suddenly he's faced with the arrival of former agent turned dodgy traitor Washington, guarded by lots of big men with shaven heads who are going to persuade him to talk by pouring jugs of water over his face while it's covered with a wet towel.

But then the bad guys who were pursuing Denzel at the beginning of the film arrive en masse and start shooting. So Ryan and Denzel go on the run. In theory, Reynolds is guarding his prisoner, but that's easier said than done, especially when the prisoner is as wily as this one, and everyone on the outside seems to be untrustworthy. So they jump in and out of cars, go to a football match and a township, and the bad guys keep coming after them.

It's all pretty routine, and only the presence of DW, plus Sam Shephard, Vera Farmiga and Brendan Gleeson gives the proceedings a touch of class. There are also some quite moments which I enjoyed, where there almost seemed to be some emotional intelligence happening. But it;s soon interrupted by more bursts of gunfire, narrative incoherence, and high speed car chases. And yes, and twists, of course, though nothing that isn't screamingly obvious. I've seen worse, but it's nothing special.


Phil Raby

Front Row Films

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