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SAFE HOUSE (USA/15A/115mins)
Directed by Daniel Espinosa. Starring Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Brendan Gleeson, Vera Farmiga, Sam Shepard, Ruben Blades, Liam Cunningham, Robert Patrick.
THE PLOT: A rogue CIA agent who has been trading intel for the last ten years, the legendary Tobin Frost (Washington) is in Cape Town, coming into possession of a top-secret file that instantly has heavy-armed goons on his tail. And so, he turns himself in at the US Embassy, locking rival CIA heavyweights David Barlow (Gleeson) and Catherine Linklater (Farmiga) into a race to wheel him in. Shipped to a safe house, where untested CIA agent Matt Weston (Reynolds) has been sitting pretty, and bored, for 12 months, Frost is just enjoying his first round of waterboarding when 12 gun-toting, grenade-throwing grunts come knocking. Soon, Weston and Frost are on the run…
THE VERDICT: Pretty much Tony Scott’s Midnight Run, with the pedal to the metal, Safe House is surprisingly effective. Not that you would expect anything less than watchable from its leading man, Washington here as sublime as ever. Reynolds too does a fine job, going some ways to making up for last year’s disastrous, career-wobbling double-bill of The Green Lantern and The Change-Up. As spy vs spy thrillers go, Safe House doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the interrogation table, but it does deliver its spills and thrills with admirable style and speed. The action never lets up here, and there’s enough smart dialogue amidst all the flashy crash, bang, wallop to keep you merrily hooked throughout. Just the sort of film you need to clean the palette after all that festival arse. RATING: 4/5
Review by Paul Byrne