In case you live in a box and haven’t seen the trailer for the movie, which is in theatres today, here’s the synopsis: Tobin Frost (Washington) is a rogue top-notch CIA operative that has eluded capture for over a decade for crimes against his country, such as selling secrets and betraying assets. Matt Weston (Reynolds) is a CIA “housekeeper” stationed at an inactive safe house in Cape Town, South Africa. Frustrated with his boring post, he hopes to someday get out of the safe house and into a case worker position, but so far his inexperience in the field has him staying put.
Now, Frost is surprisingly out of hiding and back on the grid with a file containing a laundry list of crooked government officials – a file sure to send the world into a tailspin. Unfortunately, he never gets to find a buyer for the intel before having to flee from a group trying to kill him in order to take the file. In a desperate act, he walks right into the U.S. Embassy in Cape Town and turns himself in. Frost gets transferred to, lo and behold, that very same safe house that Weston gets so tired of watching. The safe house ends up being compromised, and Matt must keep Frost safe and in custody per his CIA orders. This, as you can imagine, does not go as planned. Once Frost is brought in for debriefing, the same lethal mercenaries after him break into the safe house and murder everyone inside, except Frost and Weston, who barely escape.
On the run, they must discover who their attackers were sent by – terrorists or CIA. Frost knows that answer, and provides the initial doubt in Weston’s head about his beloved CIA, shaking his morality and belief in his agency. However, he still wants to prove himself, Weston’s job is still to get Frost to the next safe house, but along the way, he must decide who he can really trust.
Washington and Reynolds had a fantastic chemistry throughout the movie, as did the rest of the cast. I am a big fan of Ryan Reynolds, and his emotions throughout the movie were palpable and well-timed. It really seemed like he was ready to cry the whole time. Ryan Reynolds really is an actor with tremendous range, and I commend him for taking this role. I don’t think there has been a movie of his I haven’t liked, and I don’t think I would have liked anyone else in the Matt Weston role. Denzel, well, he’s Denzel after all, so of course he was excellent. I just wish he didn’t get shot so much (we watched “Man on Fire” a few weeks ago, so it’s still fresh). “Safe House” was a very physical film for both of these men. Reynolds told People that he accidentally gave Washington his very first black eye during filming of the car fight scene when Frost gets out of the trunk Weston locked him in. I am not surprised, as it was a great scene to watch. Both men went all in to make it look authentic and most of all, painful. I had a lot of “ouch” moments watching the movie.
To coincide with the screening, we also had the pleasure of attending a meet and greet with the film’s director Daniel Espinosa, getting to learn a little about his directing style (no green screens EVER) and thought process while directing this film. What I enjoyed the most was that Espinosa brings gritty camera style in direct contact with the action, taking us as viewers into the scene. The car chases were explosive and extremely fast-paced. All of the fights were close-range and masterfully shot, something that he takes pride in doing. Daniel said he “directs films as he would want to watch them”, and he definitely gets that point across in “Safe House”. The crowd was immersed in what was happening every second of the film.
Espinosa had nothing short of praise for his cast, especially Denzel Washington, saying “he has never seen anyone that works harder in the business”. When Rich asked about a particularly shocking scene in which Washington is water boarded by CIA operatives, we learned that he actually was water boarded. No stuntman, no tricky camera work. Now that’s what I call dedication to your craft, Mr.Washington. Bravo.
All in all, I definitely recommend seeing this movie – and please do so on the big-screen. Allow yourself to be immersed in the feel of this non-stop thriller and you won't be disappointed.