Sunday, 26 August 2012

Safe House, dir. Daniel Espinosa, wr. David Guggenheim, st. Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson

A somewhat tedious soft-boiled Bourne-tinged thriller from director Espinosa, Safe House stars the usually dependable Washington as the improbably cool-sounding Tobin Frost, an ex-CIA agent turned freelance acquirer and seller of incendiary documentation. Branded a traitor to his country by the Agency, he is captured in South Africa and moved to a safe house where fledgling field-agent Matt Weston (Reynolds), who longs for a little excitement (presumably of the free-running on rooftops type) and a time when he doesn't have to lie to his beautiful French girlfriend Ana about having a boring office job, resides as 'housekeeper'. The safe house, as it happens, turns out to be not so safe after all, and Frost escapes, followed by Weston, in turn followed by the CIA. It's all a bit Tony Scott-by-numbers unfortunately - poignantly timely as the director sadly passed away last week. Washington and Scott, who collaborated together on five films, proved to be a winning team with Scott providing the pyrotechnic flair and kinetic élan and Washington giving what might have otherwise been throwaway popcorn fare, a quietly charismatic leading man. Sadly there's little plot here, the screenplay is predictable and uninspiring and there's little character empathy. With a near two hour running time, it's overlong too; many directors have done much more with much less. Farmiga is wasted, as is Joel 'neo-Robocop' Kinnaman, and there's a driving percussive score from Ramin Djawadi that's got John Powell's fingerprints all over it. If you've never seen Crimson Tide, Man Of Fire, Déja Vu, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, or  Unstoppable, time to update your LOVEFiLM list.