This one’s worth checking out.

Our two leads, on the run from Vargas.

Well-made, though not highly original

I’ll just have to say it right here – it seems to me that strangely many Hollywood pictures as of late have had some sort of connection to my homeland, Sweden. Think about it; there was the Swedish business man in The Darkest Hour, the Swedish villain in Ghost Protocol, the remake of Swedish “classic” The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and now a new Hollywood thriller from Swedish director Daniel Espinosa. Why does this surprise me so? Not too sure myself.

The film in question is Safe House, a shakily edited though sometimes gripping and well-acted film, which I recommend more as a film to rent than to experience on the big screen. If you’re a truly ballsy ACTA-hater I can recommend you pirating it.

The plot involves the highly dangerous Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington, enjoyable as ever), who worked for the CIA before becoming a criminal and assassin. Carrying a file which will help him reveal criminal activity amongst intelligence agenicies around the world, given to him by MI6 agent Alec Wade (Liam Cunningham), Frost is attacked by a vicious mercenary named Vargas (played by Fares Fares). A wild chase ends him up in the clutches of the CIA and he is moved to one of their safe houses, located in South Africa.

“Keeping” the house is Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds), who has lied extensively to his girlfriend (Nora Arnezeder) about his job. He observes as Frost is interrogated by Daniel Kiefer (Robert Patrick), but Kiefer and his team are terminated when Vargas shows up again, attacking the safe house. Weston survives and escapes along with Frost. He is told by CIA operatives David Barlow (Brendan Gleeson) and Catherine Linkater (Vera Farmiga) to keep a low profile.

Frost explains to Weston what kind of world e is entering.

This proves to be rather difficult for poor Weston as Frost is hard to reason with and Vargas his hard to espcape from. Step by step Frost pulls Weston deeper into the world of crime and soon brings him to his violent, sinister level and the two learn to respect each other as Weston’s transformation happens. Interesting, but we’ve seen this before.

The remaining cast includes Sam Shepard as the CIA director and even Joel Kinnaman, speaking of Swedes and The Darkest Hour. What a small world this is.

Safe House has most of the things you could expect from a film like this; fights scenes, care chases, conspiracies, secret files and so forth. The film’s lack of creativity quite honestly makes it somewhat boring at times. Towards the end, I confess, I did find myself checking my watch. Another downer is how the action scenes are edited. They’re very shaky, filmed sometimes in close-up and are hard to follow.

Still, almost for the performances alone, Safe House is worth at least checking out. And to be fair, although the fight scenes are indeed omewhat shaky at times, they are bloody, brutal and belieavable. One near the film’s the climax was actually a bit hard to watch for me. I suppose I admire the film for that. I’ve always enjoyed me some good gore and blood, but I acknowledge that that’s normally if it’s done in an over-the-top way like in Peter Jackson‘s delightful film Braindead. When it gets more serious and less overly bloody, that’s when it becomes unsettling.

Safe House sadly doesn’t have much to offer, but fortunately, the things it has to offer are quite nice things. I love Denzel Washington just as much as the next guy but I’d say this isn’t one of his finest pictures.

3/5 whatever

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