There are times when you sit down to watch a movie that should work brilliantly and simply marvel at its failing to do so. Put together two good (or one great and one good) actors, let them spend much of the movie sparring with one another verbally and physically, throw in some car chases and gun fights, then add an international conspiracy and you ought to be good to go. Right? Well, not in the case of Safe House (2012).
Starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, Safe House is the tale of one low level CIA agent, bored with a career that involves watching an empty safe house for hours a day, suddenly ending up in the thick of things when the world's biggest big bad comes to call. As one might expect, Reynolds plays our young, naïve hero, Matt Weston, and Washington takes the role of the big bad, Tobin Frost. Frost is an ex-CIA agent who went bad for some unknown reason but now finds himself needing (temporary) protection from the US.
Naturally, things don't go according to plan for either man. Weston's first big case turns into a disaster when armed thugs take out the team assigned to interrogate Frost. Plus, Frost's escape from custody so that he can sell his big secret doesn't go as smoothly as he might like. Along the way, the old guy teaches the young one something about the world, and the young guy maybe—just maybe—affects the world-weary villain.
Directed by Daniel Espinosa with a script from David Guggenheim, Safe House turns out to be a paint by numbers affair. One can see all the twists and turns from the beginning, even the ones which make no logical sense because there's nothing in the script to support them (they're still easy to spot because we've all seen this sort of film before and know where the twists are supposed to be).