In my ongoing mission to stay home on a weekend night and watch TV, I bring you movie reviews from what’s happening on the streaming services. Last night’s choice was Safe House (2012) starring Denzel Washington and a yet to be typecast as Deadpool Ryan Reynolds.
One last bit about myself before we get into the review: intrigue movies seem to be the only place on the Venn Diagram where Mrs. Cranky and I overlap in acceptable genres. Her choices end up with me watching some British lady dying of cancer or something while I constantly check Twitter. Conversely, my choices result in me watching the last 70 minutes alone.
So what can I say about Safe House? It’s a Denzel Washington vehicle which is a winner for both of us. I’d be jealous that Mrs. Cranky thinks he’s gorgeous except that I think he’s gorgeous too.
Denzel plays complex characters which don’t typically fall into the good-guy/bad-guy binary. Here, he’s Tobin Frost, a former CIA agent now trafficking in stolen government secrets.
Ryan Reynolds is Matt Weston, novice station agent with the going-nowhere post. His inexperience is also expressed in youthful idealism and shaky gun hand.
Character introductions, then boom! While engaged in a shady deal with an ex-MI-6 agent, all hell breaks loose. The central casting Eastern European mobsters arrive and the body count commences.
Frost, after completing the deal, quickly finds himself in the scopes of an ambush. He’s no amateur so some clever evasion ensues. Yet our villains have this incredible ability to pursue vehicles in very crowded cities and somehow get ahead of them allowing for repeated t-boning of the getaway vehicles. Frost is left with no alternative except to turn himself into the US Consulate or die.
Weston gets his first crack at the big time when he receives Frost as the safehouse. The house is improbably discovered by the bad guys. Shock–there’s a mole in the CIA!
Hollywood has spent the last few decades not doing the classic white hat / black hat plot. Since roughly the Vietnam/Nixon era, distrust of The Man as a genre is the standard fare. So, like most of Gen X, we spend our time trying to figure out which of the old white Establishment agents is the actual bad guy. This is not a spoiler, it’s baked in from the first 10 minutes and not even subtle.
The movie is high action, low plausibility entertainment that doesn’t disappoint. There’s some fun as Frost works his way into Weston’s head. He outsmarts him a couple of times to keep the cat-and-the-very-dangerous-mouse game moving and the frenemies aspect keeps it interesting.
Cranky says, “You’re staying home anyway, so see Safe House.”