South Africans see Cape Town as a lazy, laid-back place where the biggest news of the day is which direction the wind is coming from. As the location of Denzel Washington’s latest action-thriller however, it becomes a city of suspense and kick-ass action. No dassies to be seen. This is the Mother City has awakened.
In Safe House (directed by Daniel Espinosa) Washington plays the role of a legendary CIA spy, Tobin Frost, who had gone rogue nearly a decade ago and the CIA wants him stopped, yesterday. Tobin randomly surfaces in Cape Town and is picked up by agents attached to the US consulate. But, why would a world-class renegade who has managed to evade the best of the best, let himself be taken in that easily, wonder the bigwigs in Washinton.
Tobin is taken to a safe house in town, where a rookie agent, Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds), has to make sure he stays put until he can be flown back to the United States. But, then a group of mercenaries attack the safe house and only Frost and Weston manage to escape. Now, Weston not only has to make sure Frost stays in custody but has to keep them both alive.
It is a standard CIA thriller with all the right ingredients (car-chases across the city, hand-to-hand combat, guns blazing, a mysterious dark force that hunts down the good guys) but South Africans will love it for the location and for Reynolds’ half-decent attempt at Afrikaans. Also watch out for a tiny cameo by South African model, Jena Dover.
Washington is the key ingredient which adds slick and savvy to any action film and he does the same for Safe House. His sardonic grin as he plays mind games with Reynold’s character and the ease with which he snaps a mercenary’s neck makes this movie punchy. The cinematography is also edgy with quick cuts that build up the tension.
Reynolds goes a long way in making up for the joke that was Green Lantern although I still find it difficult not to see him as Van Wilder.
A large box of popcorn and Coke will go down well with this one.
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Cast: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Robert Patrick
Rating: 31/2 out of 5