I walked out of Safe House disappointed. Then I just kept thinking about it, and the more that I thought about this film, the more upset I became. I walked in so excited. Then I found more and more reasons to get upset. How could a movie starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds do this to me? Let me count the ways.
Number one, my oldest nemesis: shaky cam. Here is a question for all of the directors out there who think that shaky cam is a good idea. Why would you want your audience to walk out of your movie not understanding what happened in specific scenes in your film? Why would you produce something that is not visually discernible in a visual medium? I go to the theater to WATCH a movie. Why would you then subject me to something that is unwatchable?
Especially in an action movie. Especially especially in a fight scene or action scene. (You are damn right I just gave them a double especially. I apologize, but these bastards deserve it.) The whole point to an action scene or a fight scene is to show us something that makes us go Wow! How in the hell are we supposed to say wow when we cannot figure out what we are watching. We have seen amazing fight scenes. I know it can be done. What kind of dumbshit needs to not show us what they are supposed to be showing us?
I know what kind of dumbshit. Daniel Espinosa. He is my number two reason that Safe House sucks. The directing choices that he makes are unfathomable. He has a huge close up shot of a main character giving a significant speech. How does he decide to make this better? He makes the scene blurry! BLURRY! AND SHAKY!!! In another scene a main character dies next to another main character. Then we get about a minute of shots of hallways. Because when characters die, do you know what I am interested in? The scenery.
Reason number three: David Guggenheim. He wrote Safe House. There are two major things that are wrong with Safe House and I don’t know how they could possibly coexist. I knew everything that was going to happen long before it did, and many things happened for no reason at all. It is like they took a generic formula and just added scenes because they are normal scenes, but they forgot to give us any reason for those scenes being there.
Let’s take this one at a time. Knowing everything that is going to happen. First and foremost, I could have told you who the bad guy was from their very first moment on screen. It was so obvious that to call it a twist is like saying M. Night still makes good movies. It is insulting to call what he makes movies, and it is insulting to call this a twist. There was no tension in Safe House whatsoever.
There are several scenes that are meant to be jump scares. They were all so obvious that it was more scary to think that people might actually be frightened by them. A guy talks about how happy he is with his family and life. I wonder if he is going to get shot in the next scene? They say that Denzel rewrote the book on how to interrogate people for the CIA literally one scene before the CIA tries to interrogate Denzel. Do you think that went well for them?
Next, things happened for no reason at all. There is one very important thing that the makers of Safe House decided to ignore. Motivation. (In order to explain this problem, I need to discuss massive spoilers. Highlight the below text if you don’t mind being spoiled.) Denzel is angry at the government for doing the exact same thing he has been doing for the last 10 years. Ryan Reynolds breaks up with his girlfriend to protect her, and then tries to reconnect after he has made enemies with every single corrupt secret agent in the world. Brendan Gleeson has no problem killing everyone, but he wants Ryan Reynolds to be his friend. (End of spoilers.) None of that makes any sense at all.
Or here is a little extra gripe for you. Think of it as Jonny coming over for the evening, and then cooking you breakfast in the morning. If Denzel is the most badass, smartest most lethal agent out there; how does he constantly get thwarted by a brand new, never been tested, never had field experience, sits in a chair for 12 months straight before this Ryan Reynolds?
Truly, the only good things about Safe House are Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. Denzel picks some shitty movies, but he always acts the crap out of them. (See what I did there?) Reynolds is starting to scare me with the level of crap he has decided to be in lately. I obviously think Safe House was another poor choice for both of them. But through all of the poor dialog, shitty motivation and inability to see them through blurry, shaky cams they both act with power and passion. That right there might be one of the reasons I am so upset about this film. With these two as the leads, this could have been a powerful film. Instead it is just a rehash that doesn’t even have enough of interest to put it at the levels of the films it is trying to emulate.
Don’t see Safe House. Don’t spend money on this film.
Have you seen Safe House? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below.