Director Daniel Espinosa’s Safe House
doesn’t tread into new territory, but uses tricks of the spy-movie trade, with claustrophobic chase scenes, shaky close-ups, and badass shoot-outs to boot. When the CIA safe house in Cape Town, South Africa, is breached, rookie Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) is in charge of fugitive agent Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington), while Big Brother CIA headquarters in Virginia watches over. Reynolds, who is best when silent and brooding, is far from Washington’s match---both as an actor and his character. What is effortful for the former is like breathing for the latter. Safe House
is about betrayal, but you hardly care; what really keeps you hooked is Washington’s suaveness and the movie’s adherence to all things cliched, to the extent that it becomes a parody of itself. Sort of like mediocre television: you know how it’s going to end, but you keep watching, anyway, for its entertainment value, as cheap as it is.