Safe House Review

Film Still
  • Safe House film still


Intermittently enjoyable but often dull. And too bloody loud.

Hands up who like punching? The sight of big, burley men laying into each other complemented by the satisfyingly meaty sound of ham-like fists cleaving indiscriminately into human flesh. Do you care about collateral damage? You know, the innocent bystanders who get shot or blown up to service the narrative of a workaday thriller.

If your answers are yes, yes and no, Safe House could very well be the film for you. It’s surely the most comprehensive showcase of onscreen thumping since The Fast Show spoof, The Long Big Punch Up.

Punching aside, there is a plot. It concerns idealistic CIA drone, Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds), who’s charged with guarding supercool rogue agent, Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington), while he’s held in a state-of-the-art safe house. Before long, the house is under attack from a band of unspecified action men and all hell breaks loose in typically hyper-violent fashion across a panoply of exotic locations.

Dotted throughout this formulaic, noisy and relentlessly brutal showpiece are topical nods (WikiLeaks, Guantanamo Bay, the Occupy movement) but they remain just that: undeveloped and left to hang. Director Daniel Espinosa is clearly more interested in crafting flashy action sequences. There is a riveting car chase, but too often these scenes suffer from negligent editing and devolve into a crunching, enervating audio-visual mulch.

Though characterisation across the board is minimal, Washington is reliably charismatic and occasionally devilish, yet clearly performing way below his magnetic best. Reynolds is keen but one-dimensional and the pair lack vital chemistry. A strong supporting cast (including Vera Farmiga and Terminator 2’s Robert Patrick) is largely wasted on drab material, though it’s always a pleasure to see the redoubtable Brendan Gleeson strut his stuff, whatever the context.

View 4 comments

Isadora Terra

3 years ago
love your reviews, guys... always sharp, bold and sarcastic.


3 years ago
Nice review.


3 years ago
"forgettable" - exactly.


3 years ago
not sure ALWAYS sarcastic is a plus, but still a good review.
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