Denzel Washington is back in the role of the bad guy in Safe House, a C.I.A. thriller that entails the normal C.I.A. verbiage: espionage, missing files, reconnaissance, etc.
Washington, playing the role of former C.I.A. agent/traitor Tobin Frost, played a much more conniving (and convincing) bad guy in Training Day. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to erase his Oscar-winning role in Training Day from your mind while watching Safe House. And Tobin Frost ain’t got nothing on Alonzo Harris (Washington’s Training Day character).
Set in South Africa, Reynolds’ character Matt Weston is in charge of a C.I.A. safe house that doesn’t see a lot of excitement. That all changes when Frost is busted for an info deal gone bad. Frost, who “turned” years ago, is known as the C.I.A. agent who rewrote the book on interrogation. So when he’s brought in for questioning at Weston’s safehouse, things don’t go quite as expected.
After a rogue group attempts to capture Frost due to information he may be holding, Weston makes the decision to try and bring him in on his own. But without field experience, he lacks the confidence to go up against the former C.I.A. big boy Frost.
e Safe House goes in and out of action sequences with Frost and Weston trying to escape bad guys, Frost trying to escape from Weston, Weston figuring out where Frost is going, and the normal formula you would expect from an action flick with a hunter and a hunted. The only thing unique about Safe House is that the role of hunter and hunted are never solidified. Sometimes Weston has the upper hand, other times it’s Frost.
From there Safe House is missing the surprising twist and turns truly great action movies have. Add that to a phoned in performance from Washington and a performance from Reynolds that’s lacking conviction and you have a very average action movie — one I would hesitate to call a “thriller.”
While it’s not a waste of your time to see Safe House, I would definitely relegate it to your Netflix queue or pick it up from Redbox rather than venturing to the theater to see it.
All photos courtesy of Universal Pictures.