Saturday, February 25, 2012

Daniel Espinosa: Safe House

Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Safe House, Universal Pictures, 2012.

With all of the half-baked thrillers we are deluged with on the regular, there will always be the ones like Safe House; so generic, yet so well crafted that we can't help but enjoy every second, inconsistencies and all. David Guggenheim's screenplays is a new engine made out of all the old parts. It may not run smoothly, but it runs.

Norwegian action/thriller director Daniel Espinosa makes his stateside debut, materializing Guggenheim's material material. A watered-down political-action-thriller with a double back plotline, Oliver Wood's layered,textured cinematography goes a long way in helping it all go down smoothly. The severity of the images, sharply recalling Tony Scott, suck us into an entertaining cat and mouse game. Ramin Djawadi provides a terse, goading score. Set to the slums and government buildings of South Africa, this spy game spirals into multiple climax, which doesn't flow as well as what came before.

Denzel Washington brings his heat to the match, and turns in his usual star turn/character identification. Ryan Reynolds is strong as well, matching Washington step by step. The cast is a treasure trove of beloved character actors. Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard, and Robert Patrick are all utilized well enough. Espinosa shows considerble promise as a new action director in our country.

For all of the pretensions of the genre, anything done well is well enough. Espinosa's Safe House is vivid, engaging and smells like cash and popcorn.

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