Friday, July 13, 2012

Movie Review: Safe House

1. Short review: 

2. Long review:
2.1. What I liked: The action.
Roller-coaster or walk-in-the-park? Roller coaster.

2.2. What I did not like:  The message. The message the writer, David Guggenheim, sent with this movie is self-righteous rubbish. God be thanked, the message does not detract from the action. But when I thought about it, I realized that the vacuity of the message made the action pointless.

2.3. Who I think is the audience: Action movie fans.

2.4. Is the movie appropriate for children to see?  No. I do not recall much profanity, and much of the violence is movie violence -- gun-shot victims with no spatter and no blood -- but there are two scenes of hand-to-hand combat in which the winner kills the loser by snapping his neck. One of these comes early in the movie and the other, late. I do not think these are appropriate for the kiddies to view.

2.5. On the basis of viewing this movie, will I pay to see the sequel? No. I enjoyed the action, but I found the message so preachy in its morality that I was put off. How put off? I want not to see anything that David Guggenheim writes.

2.6. Rating and the plot in a nutshell:

2.6.1. How I rate movies:
-- I want my money back.
-- Worth a rental, not more. 
-- Worth first-run theater price once. <-- Safe House
-- I will pay first-run theater price to see it again.

I saw Safe House on cable. I missed the first run in theaters. I am glad to see that it did well: $85 million spent in production, $202 million gross in theaters worldwide.

Running time: 115 minutes.

2.6.2. The plot in a nutshell:
     Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington), an ex-CIA agent, acquires electronic files that detail nefarious dealing from a number of intelligence agencies, such as the American CIA, the British MI6, and the French Securite.  Within minutes of acquiring the files, a team of assassins (TA) attack him. He seeks refuge in the American consulate in Cape Town, SA.
     The CIA send in an interrogation team that spirits Frost away to a safe house kept by Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds). The TA attack the house and kill the interrogation team. Weston escapes with Frost.
     Weston speeds around Cape Town, chased by the TA, simultaneously fighting with and trying to protect Frost, and calling his French girlfriend and the CIA. Frost escapes from Weston's custody, but Weston finds him just in time to rescue him from the TA. All the while they are together, Frost schools Weston in spy work.
     Weston takes Frost to a safe house in the country. Of course, the TA shows up with the big, mean baddie from the CIA who sicced the TA on Frost. The housekeeper at the country safe house attacks Weston and gets his neck snapped for his efforts. Explosions. Gun shots. All die but Weston.
     Weston returns to Washington, DC, and -- by publishing through newspaper sources -- exposes the CIA, MI6, and Securite for the corrupt evil-doers they are. Sunshine everywhere. Lambs lie down with lions. The world has been made a better place. Except where it hasn't.
2.7. Other:

I enjoyed this movie. It had a lot of action. Some critics say the action scenes were choppy, but I found no fault with them. I think the director, Daniel Espinosa, did a good job.

I have been a fan of Denzel Washington since Crimson Tide when he went toe-to-toe with Gene Hackman and held his own. I rely on Mr Washington to give a strong performance, and he never disappoints.

The surprise in Safe House was Ryan Reynolds. In this movie, he went toe-to-toe with Denzel Washington and held his own. In the future, I shall look for Mr Reynolds. He demonstrated that he can perform in the heavyweight division.


This is a movie with a MESSAGE: Spy organizations like the CIA, MI6, and Securite do baaad things. Really?

(A note of reality: I have never seen a movie made about how evil are the Cheka, KGB, and SVR. These are the people who poisoned Alexander Litvinenko with polonium. Just so you know, polonium is not easy to get, is very expensive, and leaves a distinctive radioactive trail. The SVR all but rented a billboard in London saying "Yup, we did it." Why does David Guggenheim not apply his writing talent to this story?)

Okay, so spy organizations do bad things. Really? I mean, is this a surprise to you? Did you expect spies to be choir boys?

"Men are not ruled with prayer books." -- Niccolo Machiavelli


2.8. Links:
IMDb review
Rotten Tomatoes review

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