Safe House (9/10)
by Tony Medley
Run time 115
This is a tense
thriller with inexperienced CIA agent Ryan Reynolds trying to protect
and, at the same time, bring in rogue agent Denzell Washington in Cape
Town, South Africa. There are lots of mysterious people trying to kill
present the CIA in a good light. I might have objected at one time, but
from what I've learned about our Members of Congress and all the
politicians who have occupied and worked in the executive branch since
1988 and the shenanigans in the courts, especially the Los Angeles
Superior Court, what goes on in this movie can't be easily discounted.
This is extremely
well-directed by Daniel Espinosa, a Swede directing his first American
movie and his first exposure to major stars (Washington has a producing
credit), from a good script by David Guggenheim, with help from
uncredited writers John Lee, Terry George, and Espinosa himself. Given
all the people who worked on the script, it's mind-boggling that they
all have Denzell utter an appallingly ungrammatical comment about a
"connection between you and I" that was like fingernails drawn across a
blackboard for me. It's not as if his character is an idiot; in fact,
he's painted as extremely bright. It's bad enough for professional
writers not to know basic grammar, but didn't anybody catch this? Are
Denzell and everyone who looked at the dailies so illiterate they didn't
say, "Wait a minute; this doesn't sound right?"
This has one
firefight after another with car chases and rooftop chases thrown in.
They go on from beginning to end. There's not much time for thinking in
this film, although Reynolds does a terrific job conveying a guy thrown
into something he never imagined in his wildest dreams and winging it.
Reynolds give wonderful performances, ably backed up by a good cast that
includes Vera Farmiga and Brendan Gleeson. Equally compelling is the
cinematography (Oliver Wood, who also shot the Matt Damon "Jason Bourne"
films, which used similar technique), although the plethora of shots
using cinéma vérité techniques highlighted by hand held cameras and cuts
so quick they might make one dizzy, could be bothersome to some viewers.
There are quite a few violent fights and the cuts are so fast that the
gore of the actual knives and things going into bodies isn't actually
seen. But it can certainly be heard. The sound is also a big part of
this movie. Every time something happens, you not only see it, you hear
it, emphasized. The amplified sound, like the splendid music (Ramin
Djawadi), add immeasurably to the high tension that pervades throughout.
February 8, 2012