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Friday, February 10, 2012

Ryan Reynolds Faces Off Against Denzel Washington in "Safe House"

Denzel Washington is back as a member of law enforcement on the big screen. But this time he's got a target on his back.

In Safe House, the Oscar winner plays Tobin Frost, a CIA agent years rogue harboring a dangerous file. When the CIA finally catch up to him, he's taken to a safe house guarded by rookie agent, 29-year-old Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds), who's been looking to prove himself to his doubtful boss David Barlow (Brendan Gleeson) ever since he got on the job. But when this job put him way over his head, that's when it all starts to hit the fan.

As the plot thickens, Matt and Tobin find themselves on the other side of the chase, becoming unlikely allies.

Though it's not a premise we haven't seen played out before on the silver screen, Safe House is a movie that sucks you in, guts you, and spits you out at the end. In constant motion, the movie relies heavily on torture tactics and high speed chases (including one car chase in particular involving Reynolds at the wheel and Washington tackling him from behind, handcuffed) that aptly get the audience's adrenaline pumped.

But, let's face it, Washington can play this character with his eyes closed. It's not a particularly challenging role, but he does make it worthwhile to watch. His eternal smugness only firther captures the essence of a character that's smart, but too slick for his own good. And so he pokes fun at Matt's naivete every chance he gets. We've seen it before from Washington, but we can't help chuckling at his every jab just the same.

Then there's Reynolds, who was in desperate need of a big screen comeback after his last two disastrously-reviewed movies, The Green Lantern and The Change-Up. He holds his own alongside Washington, and channels a bit of that same desperation in his performance that impressed audiences in Buried. So, in a way, Reynold's performance was a bit more fascinating to watch because we rarely get to see him like this, and we want more of it. With a bit more polishing, we could expect to see him in more roles like this that challenge his abilities.

While Safe House isn't especially revolutionary, it is one heck of a thrill ride that's filled with sharp twists around every corner. Though some of the casting choices may leave you scratching your head, like Vera Farmiga as the tough as nails yet useless agent Catherine Linklater, effective performances by both Washington and Reynolds keep you invested in the relationship between the two main characters and on the edge of your seat until the very end.

Rating: B-


Brittani Burnham said...

I'm really starting to prefer Reynolds in serious roles. I hope he does more.

Dan O. said...

It’s a serviceable thriller that should satisfy those late winter cravings from action fans who haven’t seen enough bullets and fists flying onscreen. Nothing special but Reynolds and Washington make it better than it has any right to be. Good review Candice.

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