Safe House

Safe House

Static Mass Rating: 4/5
Universal Pictures

Original UK release: February 24th, 2012
Certificate (UK): TBC
Running time: 115 minutes

Director: Daniel Espinosa
Writers: David Guggenheim

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Denzel Washington, Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Robert Patrick, Sam Shepard

Twenty minutes… twenty minutes I was sat in this golden hotel in London. Denzel Washington was running late; all I could think about was trying to stop my legs from shaking… Empire magazine did rate him one of the most beautiful people on the planet after all. What was I going to ask him? Would I even get the chance?

Just as I decide to take an overly dramatic stretch to highlight my boredom, in glides this perfectly clear white toothed man, brushing directly passed my leg…

After hearing Denzel and Espinosa discuss their film, my thoughts took me back to the debatable Safe House

Safe House

The young Swedish filmmaker, Daniel Espinosa relocates us to South Africa to offer us a chance of excitement, revulsion and fear. Without any hesitation, this film is definitely not afraid to be contentious.

A young CIA trainee is braced with the task of opening his house to a fugitive. Only, the house is breached and he finds himself to be the only man left standing. Matt Western (Ryan Renolds) has to fulfil his duty of moving the ‘highly dangerous’ Tobin Frost (Denzel) to a new house. However, his journey takes a nasty turn thanks to the insights of his prisoner; he realises his naïvety and learns to trust no-one .

Ryan Renolds definitely poses as a success. Seeing him act is nothing compared to the shock of him actually being part of a decent film. And, of course Denzel does not disappoint.

“What am I going to win today? How am I going to win?”

His cool, deep America accent brings me back to the room. Being in the presence of Denzel just makes me realise how easy going he really is for such a talented movie star.

“I’m not a movie star, I hate that word. I’m just someone who goes out to work.” – Denzel

Denzel’s laid back attitude just makes him more loveable. Espinosa is laughing along to his jokes until he finally sums up what the film means to him…

“How can we live without compromise over ethics? This is what, for me, sums the film up” – Daniel Espinosa

Safe House is the argument of what is right and what is wrong. It highlights how people In the CIA either choose their job or their ethics. Tobin Frost chose ethics and so, his duty has transformed him into the shell of a socio-path.

Safe House

This film does not conform, and that side of it is brilliant. The fact that Espinosa does not batter an eyelid to the offence he is throwing on America is pretty fearless. He is Swedish and a lot of people may question what right he has to take on the flaws in the American justice system. However, I believe that a fresh, non-bias, third party account is just what the world needs to learn about America.

Since September 11th, America’s trust in their government, their protectors have diminished due to an outbreal of embarrassments and mistakes. What’s more, those in the wrong were hardly punished and in some cases, were promoted; in 2003 a German was whisked off for interrogation surrounding terrorism. Only, he was the wrong guy. The woman who was at the centre of the blame and embarrassment inflicted on the American society has now risen to one of the highest job roles in the counter-terrorism centre. America have a tendency to sweep all unwanted information under a large rug. The lies and mistrust are what have inspired this controversial success.

If your a fan of action thrillers, this film definitely has all of the conventions for this genre; From fast paced fighting scenes to expensive and imaginative car chases. The detail was precise and although it was fast, at the same time, every single movement was shown; I have never felt so uncomfortable watching a fight, I felt every hit.

Yet, the film has no in-depth content surrounding the characters. We learn nothing interesting from our protagonist; Matt. Tobin Frost acts as a sort of robot. These factors are what have let the film down and therefore it is not a film to remember for breaking boundaries, smashing through the conventions or bringing something new, more art-like to the everyday action-packed thriller.

Safe House

But, don’t get me wrong, the fight scenes are phenomenal and you can tell that a lot of time and money were put into these scenes.

One scene in particular that highlights the accuracy and beauty of Espinosa’s fights is at the very end of the film. Matt is fighting against a co-worker of the CIA. The fight lasts a few minutes but feels like a lifetime. What makes this scene is the tension changes; they are sitting, chatting and all of a sudden, the film is reunited with it’s fast paced, boiling point friction that we are used to. The way they fall through the glass window just adds to the question; is there anything else Espinosa can add, that he hasn’t already, to make this scene any more brutal? The question is yes… We see, we feel every piece of glass slash into their bodies. Espinosa takes fighting to a whole new level. It’s nothing like splatter gore we see in horrors; it’s real.

I just wished that the script was more in-depth. The mistrust in the American CIA is such a raw, huge issue that so much more could have been done with this. Espinosa could have stimulated the audience more into feeling anger towards the system. What’s more, there’s nothing worse than using two main characters whom an audience don’t understand or can’t relate to. I think that Espinosa is a great director though and I think he definitely has the potential to make a film to remember, one day.

About Lauren Mannion

Lauren Mannion

Lauren is final year student on a Creative Media course with the aim of starting university later this year. She enjoys spending her time either writing, analyzing, watching films or pouring pints for the locals at work.

An avid cult fan, she also enjoys films that depict social realism and are not afraid to be bold and brutal. On the other hand, she also likes the odd ones too; Hal Ashby’s Harold and Maude is one of her favourite films. People she admires include director Shane Meadows and Hollywood icons James Stewart and Orson Welles who was 26 when he made Citizen Kane. “I have 5 more years to prepare a film that’s as good as his…”