SAFE HOUSE. Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Vera Farmiga, Sam Shepard, Brendan Gleeson. Directed by Danial Espinosa. Rated M (Violence and infrequent coarse language). 115 minutes.
National secret agencies, rogue operatives, surveillance and secrets – popular ingredients for espionage thrillers. Safe House takes up a story of the interior workings of agencies and dealing with agents who have betrayed their country, selling top level information.
The setting is South Africa and the film takes advantage of Cape Town locations as well as of the countryside. The rogue agent in question is Tobin Frost, played with his customary charm, intelligence and shrewdness by Denzel Washington. When he is taken by mercenaries, he escapes to the US consulate where he is transferred to a safe house with Ryan Reynolds as his keeper and where he is interrogated. However, the safe house is attacked and both men go on the run.
There are a number of scenes in Langley as supervising authorities try to control the flow of events. They are played by Sam Shepard, Vera Farmiga and Brendan Gleeson. It is interesting to watch how the US manages matters in a distant country and the means of surveillance and communication.
Most of the film involves chases, Frost escaping into a crowded sports arena, the pursuit by mercenaries and a final confrontation and the revelation of the villain (not too hard to spot).
It works quite well, offers both interest and excitement, with Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds playing well off each other.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Out February 9 2012.