Sunday, February 12, 2012

Movie Review: Safe House


Well, that was pretty good. I liked Safe House. It features Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington, both of whom I'm fond of (especially Denzel Washington, The Book of Eli is among my favorite movies). It was directed by Daniel Espinosa, who I admit I don't know. The plot follows Matt Weston (Ryan Reynold's character), a CIA agent who left the farm with very high evaluation scores, but has been stuck as a "housekeeper" for a South African safe house. Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) is a former CIA agent who went rogue a decade ago and has been selling secrets ever since. Without any specifics, he ends up in said safe house, said safe house is attacked and only Matt gets out with Tobin, and they go running, Matt trying to get Tobin to the CIA and Tobin trying to get away to safety. (None of this should be spoiler, btw, this is all trailer stuff)

So, what were cool things and bad things?
Gun Sounds: This is something that kept sticking out to me. The gun sounds are very distinctive to each gun from what I could tell. Not just different pistol/machine gun/shotgun sounds, but even different machine guns made different noises. In a lot of movies and shows, there's just one gun noise, which is usually fine, but I like this attention to detail. It also made for a nice way to distinguish one side of a conflict from another sometimes, you could tell who was shooting. Next best thing to Star Wars's color-coded laser shots for knowing who's shooting! (Wow, I guess in Star Wars it's always pretty obvious which shots were friendly fire. Never though about that before)
Color: Oh man, I'm so glad about this. The fear of a movie set in Africa (or especially the Middle East) is that the movie will look very desaturated and brown and tan and dusty. It's VERY easy for directors to go that route, and quite common too. Heck, look at the Call of Duty video games. But no, this was the Uncharted of movies - vibrant, bright, varied colors, just like the real South Africa. Two scenes in particular were very nice in this regard: one was in a building, and the rest of the scene is kinda unimportant, but I turned in my seat and whispered to my dad "Oh my god is that wall ever YELLOW!" That sort of vibrancy became a standard for the movie (actually, there was sort of a reversal, in that the CIA HQ scenes were very basic and drab, gray with blue screens type). The other scene was in the Langa Township. Even though it was at night, it looked really nice.
Cinematography: There were some really nice impressive shots there. Not all of them, but a bunch of great ones. I think it owes to them actually filming out in South Africa. The top-down helicopter shots were spectacular.
Denzel Washington: He was pretty cool. Kinda quiet sometimes, but I like this dude's acting.
Music: I liked it! Nothing extraordinary, but it was pleasant enough. Some of the ethnic instruments in it were nice, reminded you that this was South Africa.

Less Cool:
Ryan Reynolds: He stood his ground, and it was nice, but he certainly wasn't the highlight of the movie. Just nothing particularly impressive that ad ehim hero material. Did some cool action stuff though.
Shaky Cam: Yup, there was a lot of it. Not Bourne Supremacy a lot, but still quite a bit. Got annoying at times. I'm gonna pair this with a lot of jump cuts. Both shaky cam and jump cuts are useful techniques to make a scene appear less static and more fast-paced, but editors have to know when it's a bit too much and it becomes either nauseating or just obscures what exactly the action is. They fell a bit further on the latter side.
White Folks: There were a lot of white folks. Maybe this is my own ignorance (in which case ignore this point) but I would have thought there'd be a few less white folk running around Cape Town. Then again, it's a major metropolitan city, so I could definitely be mistaken here.
Shocks: So you're in a calm, quiet scene, working through some plot, when ACTION and a gun goes off and it's really loud and you kinda jump in your skin? The stock and trade of bad horror films, this is a trick that works in an action thriller once, maybe twice per film. This has it like 5 times. Didn't like that.
In The Shadow Of Giants: The movie FEELS like a less-capable version of the others in the spy genre. While it doesn't even come close to what James Bond does (although I suppose it's not too far off in genre from Casino Royale. It'd be unfair to use Bond as the measuring stick though), it feels like it has some television spy in it (His name was Weston! All I could think of was Burn Notice. I know this is just coincidence, but still), and this quality would be fit for a television action spy. However, the biggest thing this tried imitating was some of the Bourne stuff, especially Ultimatum. Ryan Reynolds is...well, he's not Matt Damon. Maybe it was also the trailer for Bourne Legacy we saw beforehand, but I think a lot of folks will compare it to that, and it will come up subpar in those comparisons.

However, all in all, I think it was solid, enjoyable film, if not exactly a "thinking" film. Memento this ain't. But I liked it, and I'd recommend it if you want to spend a few hours watching a fun movie. Maybe it'll be especially worth it on DVD or On Demand, I don't think you'll lose a ton on the small-screen (except maybe some color vibrancy).

Watch This Movie If You Like: Fast-paced Action Thrillers, Spy Conspiracies a la Bourne, Denzel Washington
Don't Watch This Movie If You're Expecting: A lot of thoughtful stuff to bite into, quality on par with Bourne.
7.5/10, 4 stars out of 5.

End Recording,

No comments :

Post a Comment