‘Safe House’ in Denzel’s Safe Hands

Denzel Washington’s “Safe House” is a pretty darn good mystery/thriller. But two days after seeing it, I have a sense I wouldn’t be saying that if it weren’t fore Denzel Washington.

The story moves at a breakneck pace. The dialog is credible and taut. And poor Ryan Reynolds (“The Change-Up,” “Green Lantern”) does as well as a pretty guy can do when compared and contrasted to Denzel (bottom line: they didn’t pay Reynolds enough).

The film’s primary problem is that someone in Hollywood said, “We need a spy thriller like the ‘Bourne’ films.” And the creators took them at their word.

Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds in "Safe House." Still courtesy of IMDB.COM

The Chris Cooper character from the “Bourne” trilogy here is played by Brendan Gleesan. The always-excellent Vera Farmiga has the “Bourne” role played by Joan Allen and Sam Shepard takes over Scott Glenn’s role from “Bourne.” French actress Nora Arnezedar is lustrous but underused recreating German actress Franka Potente’s love interest a la “Bourne.”

The editing and cinematography are “Bourne”-esque to the point of homage. Having said that, one of the action sequences, a gun battle and chase in a favela-style slum in South Africa, is stunning, whiplash tight and choreographed like a Broadway musical. It’s a thing of beauty.

Composer Ramin Djawadi (“Game of Thrones,” “Prison Break”) makes the move from TV with a score that is at turns poignant and compelling, driving the action nicely. But again, it’s reminiscent of John Powell’s work on all three “Bourne” films.

The ending is completely predictable. Sad but true.

“Safe House” is an exciting tale well told. But Denzel, being Denzel, does the heavy lifting to bring OK material up to the next level.

About danahaynes

Dana Haynes is the author of ICE COLD KILL (2013), BREAKING POINT (2011) and CRASHERS (2010) from Minotaur and St. Martin's Press.

Posted on February 14, 2012, in Blog and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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