Upon walking out of the theatre after watching “Safe House”, a sort-of spy-espionage action thriller starring the screen giant Denzel Washington and the screen candy Ryan Reynolds, it had occurred to me that I really should give more appreciation to the rare action thrillers that comes along every once in a while and makes you think “wow, that really works”, in that the film just clicked in terms of its script, acting, action sequences, etc. Unfortunately, “Safe House” isn’t one of these films.
It certainly should be praised with regards to the acting, with Washington playing an experienced and cold-blooded ex-CIA Agent so convincingly you’d think he’s played it dozens of times before. But the story, which had a promising premise and opening before descending into a simpleton who-done-it plot line more suitable for Thursday night TV shows, just failed to make anything out of the performances.
That was the most disappointing thing about the film. There is a set up for a thriller of a much grander scale here, comparable to that of the “Bourne” films. In the much-praised trilogy (soon no longer a trilogy with the release of “The Bourne Legacy”), the stakes feel higher; we feel the profound implications of the actions of the characters, and we are are always guessing on what happens next. “Safe House” has too predictable a storyline to be on the same footing as the “Bourne” films.
Also, there comes a point where with good script-writing, you can blur the line between action sequences that make sense and those that do not. For example, some scenes in the “Bourne” films can be argued as denying the laws of physics or physically impossible, but because it fits well into the story and we as the audience believe the characters are making logical decisions, we don’t get the sense that the action sequences make no sense at all, as some did “Safe House.”
Blessed with such a strong cast, why box yourself in by running the characters around in a who-done-it plot where the audience figures out who the true villains are before the characters do? Often times when I go to the movies and I see parts where I can guess almost exactly what happens or even what the characters will say I smile to myself. It never ceases to help remind myself that good script-writing is actually quite hard to come by and, unfortunately, “Safe House” is brought down by a weak script.