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February 12, 2012
Review - " Safe House "  -  (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Safe House
Directed by: Daniel Espinoza
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Denzel Washington, Vera
Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard, Liam
Cunningham, Joel Kinnaman

Denzel Washington is a true rarity amongst Hollywood’s
leading men: an actor whose presence alone can
bolster an otherwise perfunctory movie. And
Washington has certainly starred in his fair share of
those in recent years.

The basic storyline goes like this: Tobin Frost (Denzel
Washington) is a wanted man. A former CIA agent, he’s
been on the run for nine years, knowing that if he ever
emerges from hiding he’ll be thrown to the wolves, cast
as a villain against his own country. He resurfaces in
South Africa, where he’s obtained crucial information
that his old bosses are eager to keep from getting into
the wrong hands.

Fleeing from assassins who pursue him through the
streets of the city, he gives himself up and is taken to a
safe house, occupied by agent Matt Weston (Ryan
Reynolds). Weston hasn’t seen much activity at the
house and isn’t quite sure how to handle the arrival of
the notorious Frost, but before he can figure it out,
Frost’s pursuers find the house and force their way in.
Weston and Frost flee, leading to the type of
spectacular car chase that’s become so prevalent in
today’s action film that it no longer has the power to

The film cuts away from Weston and Frost to follow CIA
agents Catherine Linklater (Vera Farmiga), David
Barlow (Brendan Gleeson) and Harlan Whitford (Sam Shepard, Fair Game) as they track Weston and try to figure out what
Frost has to offer. Frost wastes no time in trying to mess with Weston and free himself. When that doesn’t work out, he gets
to educate Weston on how someone higher up in the agency has betrayed him, and how the agency will turn against Weston,
just as it did against Frost. Frost then gets to watch knowingly as events play out just as he had predicted.

Frost is, of course, impossibly charismatic and dangerously manipulative, quickly creeping out everyone at the safe house.
Not even Robert Patrick - the freakin' T-1000 from Terminator 2: Judgment Day, for Pete's sake - can rattle this guy; Frost's
specialty happens to be interrogation and all of the sneaky (and sometimes violent) little tricks that go with it, so it's he who
asks the questions around here. He makes the relatively inexperienced Weston very nervous - and Frost just thrives on
people's nerves. But before the mind games can really begin, the safe house is attacked by more people with guns who kill
pretty much everyone in the place except for the young agent and his charge, who manage to escape in order to engage in
one of the best car chases since‚ well, since the last great care chase you saw in a movie. From there, Weston and Frost are
on the run, trying to figure out who's trying to kill them and getting little to no support from the suits back in Langley,

Determined and principled but
untested, Weston whisks Frost off,
determined to turn him over to CIA
brass. High-adrenaline chases
ensue, as do double- and triple-
crossing. Frost is an expert
manipulator, but Weston, an
ambitious Yale grad, does his best
to remain in charge. Their story
becomes one of mentor and
protégé as the trust-no-one
atmosphere crescendos.

Safe House is a neck-snapping,
bullet-thumping yarn with Denzel
Washington cruising in his super-
cool, unflappable, bad-to-the-bone
mode; we’ve seen it before but, hey,
why mess with what’s working? It's
a familiar tale of conspiracy and
corruption at nearly every level, as
well as idealism shattered. But told
as it is with energy and verve, Safe
House is a bracing action thriller
made all the more watchable
because of its two lead performances.