“Remember rule number one: you are responsible for your house guest. I’m your house guest.”
Pack a vuvuzela, because we’ve got Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds in a spy movie where no one hides the fact that they’re a spy basically and the action is unexciting all the time; this is Safe House.
Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) is an actor who for years has been able to take the most simple of plots and make them engaging just by bringing his own level of gravitas to the project each time. Here is no different, he plays a rogue spy who’s walked right back into the hands of the CIA for the simple reason that in the moment it’s a frying pan or fire scenario and he seems to think that the CIA might just be the frying pan and not the fire. When the safe house, managed by Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds), is compromised Matt must use unconventional methods to keep hold of his houseguest.
The film disguises its action filled nature with the performances of the leads. With Washington and Reynolds playing off each other well trying to create a cat and mouse environment psychologically for us to enjoy. Then a sequence will occur where either those pursuing Frost will catch up to him or Frost will attempt to escape from Matt’s custody and we’ll be treated to one of the laziest shaky camera induced action sequences.
I know that post-Bourne Ultimatum the entire online community has taken the collective idea to hate on any and all shaky cam filmmaking, but here it’s a true waste of use. The point of the shaky cam is the add a level of realism to what we’re seeing, to basically induce a sense of cinéma vérité and make me feel as if the camera man is there documenting these happenings so much so that the fact that we’re in this tiny space or there is an action scene happening that the camera is shaking all over the place as the camera man tries his best to hold his tiny digital camcorder steady from a distance and failing. Here however it’s used with the intention of concealing any and all faults that the action scenes themselves may have embedded in them, and that’s why they fail, as opposed to actually enhancing the action scenes. In Greengrass’ films the action is still highlighted with the camera style, here (and in many other films like this) it is hidden.