“ Genre: Action & Adventure / Suitable for 15 years and over / Director: Daniel Espinosa / Actors: Ryan Reynolds, Denzel Washington, Vera Farmiga, Robert Patrick, Brendan Gleeson ... / DVD released 2012-06-15 at Universal Pictures UK / Features of the DVD: PAL „
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My daughter bought this DVD for her dad for fathers day, it was £3 from Home Bargains which is comparable to the prices on Amazon type sites.
The DVD is black, with a picture of Denzel Washington's face and Ryan Reynolds at the top in a combat type gun stance. The writing across is distinctive in block red writing. Its a 15 rated film as contains striong violence.
I do like Denzel Washington films, as tend to be a good quality and gritty and this is no exception. His co star Ryan Reynolds (not Burts son!) we had previously not heard off. My husband, whilst googling to see if related to Burt, said he has dated Alana Morisette and Scarlett Johansson and is known for films like 'buried' and 'smoking aces'.
This film was released in 2012, directed by Daniel Espinosa and produced by Scott Stuber. It lasts 115 minutes and is described as "action packed thrilling and explosive".
Denzil plays Tobin Frost, who is an ex CIA operative gone rogue. He is selling data when he becomes the target of a group of males trying to kill him. He manages to get away by entering an American embassy who put him in their safe house. This is were we meet the delectable Ryan, aka Matt Weston. Too much more would make watching it yourself pointless but expect lots of action and thrills.
The film moves at a good pace and is entertaining and definitely worth the lowly sum we paid for it. The acting throughout is very good (as you would expect from Denzil), filming was in Cape Town, South Africa so interesting scenery.
I'm awarding 4 Doo Yoo Stars, definitely worth a watch.
There are a small handful of actors who are always worth a watch no matter how bad the film may end up being, and Denzel Washington is one of these. His screen presence, charm and timing are just about the best in the business, and while he doesn't descend into a variety of character acting and performances like some other actors do, he is able to draw on natural ability to exude the confidence needed to play the roles.
Here in Safe House we get a lengthy introduction where it is clear he is some sort of government agent, pursued through the streets of Cape Town by a large number of dangerous looking Eastern European types. Seeing no other means of escape, he enters the US Consul, where we learn that he is Tobin Frost, the CIA's most wanted rogue agent, accused of all manner of crimes against the State.
Meanwhile, bored newbie Matt Weston is the housekeeper of a CIA safe house in Cape Town, anxious for something to get his teeth into and for him to show his worth as an agent. When Frost is assigned to the safe house, it looks like Weston's chance has finally come, until the CIA team assigned to Frost is brutally murdered and the rookie finds himself as the sole guard in a hostile environment. Cue the octane pace.
Really, on the face of it this is just another routine fast paced government conspiracy action thriller, with Frost not all he's billed up to be, and the bigwigs at the CIA trying to track down the two runaways not all they're supposed to be either. You'd be surprised if there was no twist or conspiracy going on, and nothing is kept that secret, the film making it perfectly clear from the raid and murder of the CIA team at the safe house that someone is feeding the bad guys the information.
Everything is stereotypical as well. Ryan Reynolds as Weston is suitably green, nervous about pretty much everything but actually very handy in a fight or shootout. This seems to be like most rookie government agents, and Reynolds acts it very well. His usual swagger playing roles where he is the ladies man or the comedy element is gone, instead we see a different side to his acting, and surely a good stepping stone to more similar roles. He's certainly carving out a top name for himself.
Also providing strong support are Brendan Gleeson and Vera Farmiga as the CIA bigwigs. You instantly distrust them, mainly due to rushed whisperings and clever political talk and their general unwillingness to impart any details to anyone else, but they are not alone and there are clearly bigger fish to fry. It turns out that Frost has a device that implicates important people in bad things, yet another stereotype that comes as no surprise and is actually a refreshing turn of events. there's nothing worse than watching something predictable only for it to follow an unfamiliar and confusing tack, so this one sticks to its guns.
Washington shines out above the rest of the cast though, as you'd expect him to. This is old hat to him, a bit of drama, some action, tension, cliche thriller through and through and delivered with the poise he would have learnt as a young actor. Now a box office draw, he is chosen for these sorts of roles over younger types because of the financial element when it comes to recouping the costs incurred in making the film. The box office saw this one in healthy profits quite quickly, and no doubt this is down to Washington.
The fast pace is matched by the fast camera. We get some clever angles of delivery, switching a lot during scenes so as to keep our eyes focused. A lot is made of open foreground and closed niche background vision, often the finer detailed needed visible through a car door or walking past someone's head, or even slightly obscured but clearly there. It makes you actually watch it, and while you could easily follow it while doing something else, I genuinely feel this film has the brains to accompany the brawn and you would miss out if you didn't pay full attention.
This is not to say it's anything special though. Washington is the lure, and without him this wouldn't have had the same funds, lure and hype about it that it's garnered. Reynolds would do well to continue supporting 'greats' like him as he establishes himself in leads outside of those he already attracts with his comedy. The combination of the two works very well here.
Overall then, certainly worth a watch. I feel it's also the sort of film that has enough going on to warrant watching again, as its entertaining action is matched by the basic and predictable yet enjoyable plot. Round of applause, give it a go.
Star - Denzel Washington
Genre - Action
Run Time - 115 minutes
Country - South Africa
Rental - £3 per night@blockbusters
Amazon -£6.75 DVD (Blue Ray £9.50)
Denzel Washington is one of the very few movies stars left in Hollywood that can still sell a film just on presence. If he is in an action movie then there's a good chance you want to rent it out or go see it at the multiplex, however flimsy the script or premise, why he demands $10 million per movie, which he gets every time. Producers are so confident in Denzel's appeal they not only beg to have him in their movies at that price but lend real confidence to throw money at the production because they know they will get a certain return. He is a movie alchemist, turning any average script or idea to gold. I'm pretty certain his last five action films would have done at least $150million, purely because he's in it. Unstoppable, a simple runaway train movie was only as taut and thrilling as it was because Denzel was in it.
As an average post Bourne fun spy thriller costing $85 million to make, Safe House returned a healthy $212 million to date. Anyone else in it and this may have tanked. Co-star Ryan Reynolds maybe a pretty boy and hot with the ladies but it's not him that brings the punters out in recession to action movies, more a rom com tart (which he effectively is here going up against alpha male Washington) than a dude like Denzel. Bruce Willis is the only other one I can think of that has this level of charisma and unisex appeal. Denzel, of course, is a paid up member of that exclusive cool club where the likes of Barak Obama and Samuel L Jackson are cigar smoking members.
Denzel Washington ... Tobin Frost
Ryan Reynolds ... Matt Weston
Vera Farmiga ... Catherine Linklater
Brendan Gleeson ... David Barlow
Sam Shepard ... Harlan Whitford
Rubén Blades ... Carlos Villar
Nora Arnezeder ... Ana Moreau
Robert Patrick ... Daniel Kiefer
Liam Cunningham ... Alec Wade
Joel Kinnaman ... Keller
Fares Fares ... Vargas
Green but ambitious CIA operative Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) is the keeper of Langley's safe house down in Cape Town, South Africa, a cushy number by all-accounts, his pretty girlfriend (Vera Farmiga) and the sunshine and beaches an ideal distraction from the tedium of his work. But he wants some action; just one house guest would do it, nothing since his arrival two years ago, plenty of thumb twiddling. But his wish is about to come true when the CIA's most wanted, Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington), is forced to hand himself in at the US consulate there, via a gunfight in downtown Cape Town with unknown and overwhelming force of heavies.
The plan is for a CIA team to move him to Weston's safe house and interrogate him there. It seems he is some sort of ex CIA operative who has gone rogue and has been off the grid for ages as some sort of gun for hire and causing mayhem for intelligence agencies, the best in his field and working for anyone who will pay, presumably why some swarthy Easter European types with pony tails and machine guns were shooting at him.
After some water boarding to find out who he is working for and what he has been up to, the safe house is compromised and the CIA team taken down, a mole in the ranks, Frost escaping but Weston determined to keep hold of his prisoner to prove himself to his superiors and catching up with him, the plan now to go to the other safe house in the country and await back up, section head David Barlow (Brendan Gleeson) and CIA chief Ana Moreau (Nora Arnezeder) on their way with reinforcements as this is big.
Weston has to keep moving with his prisoner as the bad guys, headed by a man called Carlos (Rubén Blades), are closing in on the pair and want what Tobin seems to have. But who can Weston trust and who does he give his prisoner to as the body count rises? Its clear Frost is a threat to everyone and this way above Weston's pay grade.
Shot by Bourne cinematographer Oliver Wood this has the look and feel of pretty much every action movie post Jason Bourne, even James Bond having to admit he looks a bit of a wuzz alongside Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass dynamic creation and style. This means jerky cameras, fast cut a ways and action sequence galore, often to distract you from the possibility that the script has little substance and a few gaping holes, but a big mindless explosion a plenty covering that up nicely. There are a lot of bullets fired, cars rolled and people mangled in Daniel Espinosa's film.
It reminds me a lot of 'From Paris with Love', John Travolta in that super agent headliner and Jonathan Rhys Myers in the second banana Ryan Reynolds role, that movie a much sillier affair than this one though. Saying that, Washington is as fun as ever with what material he has and with all his grins and menace races the film along with great energy, always just enough intrigue to keep you interested. There are some over-the-top bits but that's why we rent these and the cast, no doubt, chocking on cordite fumes, that many explosives used.
The main actors are as bullet proof as the cars and SUVs racing around South Africa and Denzel Washington as magnetic as ever on screen sporting his Nelson Mandela mullet, even agreeing to do the water boarding scene for real to add authenticity to his plight. Those South African locations are fun and give the film its own texture and feel and nice to see a Hollywood action movie steering away from hitting those perfunctory trash dumpsters in narrow alleys in Los Angeles and New York.
If you don't expect too much from your action movie and like Denzel Washington then you will feel you have got your three quid's worth from Blockbusters here. It's not his best but it's not his worse and I enjoyed this enough to recommend it to you guys, why we are here. What it is not is a super smart Bourne movie, however hard it tries to ape them. But its not a dumb action thriller either and so gets my vote. I would also recommend you watch the two recent movies he was in, Unstoppable and the Pelham 123 remake. Denzel is still the man!
= = = Special Features = = =
For Denzel's $10 million bucks he has to do an inane behind the scenes talking heads stuff with the rest of the cast here as the director tries to intellectualize his spy shoot em up....
Imdb.com - 6.8/10.0 (80,201 votes)
Metacritc.com - 52% critics' approval rating
Rottentomatos.com - 53% critics' approval rating
The Guardian - 'The film's super-saturated look and quick cutting are mere substitutes for any real sense of intrigue'.
Time Out - 'While director Espinosa hones in on the ambiguous battle between Weston's idealism and Frost's cynicism, British cinematographer Oliver Wood shoots the hell out of everything'.
LA Times - 'It ... shows how much can be done with a business-as-usual CIA-thriller script when it's bolstered by effective acting and expert direction.
Movie News - 'You'll feel bad in the morning for having spent time with it'.
Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) is a CIA rookie who is charged with manning a safe house in Cape Town. He seems confident but a little wet behind the ears. Meanwhile, we have Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) who is a completely different character. At first he seems extremely confident, and its apparent pretty much from the off that he is a 'bad guy' and most definitely on the wrong side of the law. It isn't immediately portrayed just how dangerous he is, but this soon becomes apparent when he is chased by a menacing looking gang and he stops at nothing in an attempt to escape. What isn't quite so obvious and takes a little while to be explained, is what Tobin is a bad guy for and who the guys are that are chasing him.
It's fairly obvious from the start (in fact I think its on the film synopsis) that Weston and Tobin are going to be coming together in the safe house, but under what circumstances isn't quite so obvious. It does take a while to get to that stage but when it does happen, its quite explosive and fast paced and it doesn't really stop until the end.
The film reminds me a little of the Bourne series. Lots of action (very well filmed too), espionage, explosives and chase scenes. Washington is bang on form and some scenes I had to remind myself I was watching a film, his acting was so good. Portrayed as a bad guy from the start, with arrogance and violence to boot, you instantly take a dislike to him but as the film progresses and the story unravels his character warms to you. There is one particular torture scene which was quite difficult to watch as Washington was just so good. He was howling and making strange grumbling noises that I just don't know how anyone can act. Fantastic! Reynolds too was brilliant in this. Usually portrayed as the good looking guy in rom coms, it was nice to see him do some 'proper acting' and see him get his teeth into something a little grittier. I had seen him in a film called Buried where he was literally buried alive and he was good in that so I knew he was capable of acting in something other than a rom-com, but this film just cements that.
While the acting is faultless and the casting perfect (the two gel together brilliantly), I can't help but feel there was just something missing from this film. The story was good but not fantastic, but it needed a little more imagination I felt. I guessed the outcome of the film after about 40 minutes including who the guys were that were chasing Tobin, why they were chasing him and what they outcome would be. I didn't guess the 'bad guy' correctly, but my husband did, so between the two of us we basically figured out the film at the half way point. It did end satisfactorily and tied up a few lose ends, which is always a positive as there is nothing worse than a film ending with questions still being asked by the viewer.
The film is clever and I often like watching films involving the CIA as I often wonder if scenarios play out like they do in films in the real world. This film was no different and aspects of the safe house were fascinating and interesting to watch as a viewer.
All in all I would recommend this film. It does deliver and the acting is excellent, but it's certainly not going to win any Oscars, mainly due to its 'okay' storyline'.
~ The Storyline ~
Safe House is about a CIA rookie named Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) who mans a safe house in Cape Town, South Africa. He has been manning the Safe House for 12 months, and hasn't yet had anyone come to stay in the safe house. He has had to keep his occupation secret from his girlfriend whom he thinks he works in a hospital. Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) is the CIA's most wanted rogue agent, who is captured and taken to the safe house for interrogation. During the interrogation of Tobin Frost the safe house is overtaken by people who want Frost. With the help of Matt Weston, they both escape and have to try and keep out of the gunmen's sight until they can get to another safe house, but will they be safe there?
~ Actors in the film ~
The main actors in the film are Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. Both of these actors are very well known and Denzel Washington has appeared in lots of different movies, mostly action and includes Inside Man, Man on Fire, Unstoppable and more. Ryan Reynolds is probably most known for his role in Green Lantern whom he plays a main character. In my opinion both of these are very good actors and I am a fan Denzel Washington as I think his films are great and that he's a very good actor. In the film we also see Vera Farmiga who is an American Actress and has been in Orphan, Source Code, The Departed and more.
~ The Film ~
At the beginning of the film we see Tobin Frost meet important people and they give him a small glass like capsule which contains important information. We see Tobin inject the capsule into his leg where it can stay safe until he needs it. Right from the beginning of the film there is plenty of action as we watch Tobin try to get away from the gunmen who are looking for him. Frost manages to get away and hands himself in where they take him to the safe house where they get ready to interrogate him. We also learn about Matt Weston's job in the safe house and the fact that he has to keep his job secret from his girlfriend. There are 2 short scenes where you see Frost being interrogated and Weston doesn't look comfortable with this idea and asks the men if what they are doing is legal. Shortly into the film the safe house gets attacked by people, where the next few scenes involve explosions and shooting. Weston & Frost manage to get away and have to try and get to another safe house, whilst trying to keep away from the people who want Frost or want something from him. During this time Weston has no idea about the files that Frost has or has in the capsule which is in his leg. We see plenty of action scenes involving car chases and crashes involving both Weston and Frost. When they eventually get to the safe house all seems how it should be or is it? There is yet more action at this safe house which involves more shooting and other people who have come looking for the file which Frost holds.
~ Overall Opinion ~
The special effects in this film are quite good with all the shooting and the explosions going on. The film is very much full of action and there is also a bit of blood and violence in the film as well. The main storyline was quite good, but was how-ever a little predictable at times. The characters are very good at playing the roles they play and the storyline is very good even though it's a little predictable. I didn't get lost anywhere throughout the film and I understood what was going on throughout the film itself. I did watch the Blu Ray version of the film which I borrowed off of my sister, how-ever you can purchase this from Amazon for £14.99 on Blu Ray and a normal DVD will cost you approximately £10.99. The DVD is rated a 15 which I think is fine for children of that age to watch and although there is a fair bit of violence there isn't too much blood just a little at the beginning of the film when they safe house is being attacked. I did enjoy this film and would give it at least 4 out of 5 stars. I didn't watch any of the extra/special features on the disc itself.
(review also on dooyoo)
I read a synopsis of this film when it was due to be released, and thought it sounded fairly interesting, but I was not in a rush to watch it. My brother, however, was really looking forward to it, but once he had watched it, he said it was a let-down. He tends to have very high standards though, so I didn't let his opinion stop me from eventually watching this film.
Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) is a low-level CIA agent, and "housekeeper" of a safe house in Cape Town, South Africa. He hasn't seen much action in the 12 months he has been there, and desperately wants an assignment that will give him a chance to prove himself. Enter Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington), a rogue CIA agent, who is captured in South Africa and transported to the safe house for interrogation. During Frost's interrogation, the safe house is overtaken by some men who are after Frost. Weston and Frost manage to escape and Weston must now protect Frost, evade the men that are after them, and get Frost to another safe house. But who are these gunmen and how did they find Frost in the first place? Who can Weston trust and how will he get out of this situation alive?
The film started off a little confusing with a few scenes that didn't seem to fit together, but after a few minutes the pieces did fall together. After that I found the film easy to follow, and slightly predictable. The story is nothing new as such, but a good one nonetheless, and it does have a twist or two that I didn't manage to predict. At no point did I want to stop watching the film though, because I wanted to know how things would pan out, and if my guesses would turn out to be right. The acting was excellent, and Denzel Washington was as brilliant as always. He played the part of the bad guy very well, while managing to show off the depth of his character. Ryan Reynolds was very good too, and really managed to make me care about him and hope that things would turn out well for him.
The film is action-packed so will obviously appeal to the action-fans out there, but has a story good enough to attract non-action fans such as myself too. I did enjoy the film, and it held my interest throughout, but I feel that this is one of those films that you can only watch once as subsequent viewings just won't hold any suspense at all since you will already know how things turn out. Despite having a running time of 115 minutes, I didn't feel that the film really dragged, and it was actually quite fast-paced. There were some scenes of Weston's girlfriend included that I did find a little boring, but they were included to provide more of an insight into Reynolds' character. The film didn't have an open ending, and I really appreciated this, because I hate it when the film ends without answering all of my questions. I was quite satisfied with the ending of this film as I felt that they explained everything.
I would definitely recommend this film to anyone who has a few hours to spare, and wants to watch a good film, regardless of whether they are an action-fan or not. It's not very original or extraordinary, but it is, nonetheless, a perfectly good film with a solid cast and some excellent acting.
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