Safe House

With the tag line ‘No One Is Safe’, I thought the movie was about end of the world or some similar fatalistic premise but ‘Safe House‘ turned out to be just another Corruption-CIA-Action movie that we have known and loved for many, many years. It’s a ‘Bourne’ movie with lot more political undertones and a lot less emotional core. Also Jason Bourne of this movie is a good-guy/bad-guy guy. He is also black.

Denzel Washington is like the African-American version of Liam Neeson. No matter what he does he makes them look cool, easy and impressive. There is extreme confidence and subtle menace in his actions and he delivers a powerful and immensely believable character making all the exaggerated description of his skills and past exploits made by the CIA bosses redundant. Denzel Washington’s name in the movie is Tobin Frost – making it exceptionally clear that he is bad-a$$ at something. As the name implies, he is cool, unpredictably deadly and too mysterious to comprehend.

Matt Weston is the main character of the story who goes against, and then for and then against and finally for Tobin Frost. As the movie trailer says, he is an aspiring CIA field agent who is assigned the crushingly isolated task of being a ‘housekeeper’ at one of CIA’s safe houses in Capetown, South Africa. He is bored out of his life and is begging his supervisor to give him something that does not involve ‘just sitting in a chair watching a wall’. He is denied field work and is stuck with isolated boredom.

Predictably, Tobin gets himself into the safe house and, as they say, everything explodes. It truly does. Cars, doors, houses even people get blown away. About a billion bullets get fired and few of them even hit our main characters. There are a few big chase scenes with the shaky cam that could easily nauseate a person and the number of head-on collisions is truly impressive. It should be noted that the cinematographer for all three Bourne movies held the camera for this movie as well.

A big difference from Bourne Trilogy is that in Safe House, the story happens in just one part of one country instead of many places in many countries. These stunt choreographers have clearly mastered urban action filming to the point that you can literally do anything. All the chase scenes, either using vehicles or on foot, are brilliantly shot with urgency and chaos just oozing through the screen. The whole movie has a high contrast palette with what looks like sand paper filter making it seem like a rough and gritty dream.

The real climax of the movie happens some fifteen minutes before the actual ending. As expected bad guys get killed, Tobin gets his revenge-of-sorts and Matt gets his scars of honor in the field. Then comes the predictable fluffiness of movies of this genre, laying ground work for prequels and sequels at the same time. Corruption, as it turns out, goes right up to the top. Who knew.

If you like explosive action and stunts and Denzel Washington, you will love this movie. Even if you only like two of those three things, you should still give this one a try. Oh, by the way, did you know there is going to be a new sequel to the Bourne Trilogy?

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