Movie review: Safe House

By Columbus Alive
From the February 9, 2012 edition

I’m not sure exactly what we should call it, but I think “The Bourne Identity” created its own subgenre of fast-paced, gritty spy flick.

So many have followed suit — including the Bond franchise — that what once felt fresh is feeling kinda stale. Example: “Safe House.”

Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) is a young CIA agent charged with operating a “safe house” in Cape Town, South Africa. It’s a generally boring assignment that requires him to always be at the ready.

The boredom lifts with the capture of Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington), a cunning former CIA agent who has gone rogue. Frost holds secrets that have all sides of the intelligence community hunting for him.

“Safe House” sure doesn’t lack for action — it left my ears ringing. There are so many scenes of dudes beating the crap out of each other they started to run together.

It tosses in a typically layered plot of double-crossing agents, and the Reynolds-Washington dynamic has elements of “Training Day” … and a little Hannibal Lecter.

But after the beatings subside, there’s not much here. Unless you need a winter jolt of adrenaline, you’d be safe skipping it.