I’m not a fan of Denzel Washington. I find him a bland performer who either struggles (or is unable) to stretch himself beyond his stereotypical bland, amiable style.
He’s too… nice. Even when he’s playing a bad guy he’s almost impossible to dislike, and that’s why I dislike him. And his films are usually vehicles to show us how nice he is (even when he’s a bad guy). So I was expecting very little from Safe House, which is what makes it so surprising.
The first indicator that Safe House may not be as asinine as it first appears is the impressive cast that also includes Ryan Reynolds, Brendan Gleeson, Vera Farmiga, Sam Shepard and Robert Patrick. Sure they’re all in carbon copy roles that we’ve seen in a multitude of other films but their mere presence adds gravitas to their formulaic parts. Reynolds in particular stands out. His desk jockey who spontaneously transforms into a super CIA agent when thrown in the deep end is rather incredulous but Reynolds carries it well. And even Washington isn’t all that bad.
The intense action sequences come thick, fast and soon; arriving in just the right frequency to hold us on the edge of our seats throughout, right up to its fairly predictable and impossibly neat conclusion. Good undemanding fun.