20th anniversary high school reunion. In that everything feels comfortingly familiar, you're pretty sure who will turn out to be a jerk, and when you wake up the next morning you'll realize nothing was as deep or as good looking as it felt at the time. You're not upset you went, but it still feels like the evening could have been so much better. Leaving you only secure in the belief that Denzel Washington still rocks. That last part may not apply to your high school reunion of course.
Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) is the keeper of a CIA safe house in Johannesburg. It's not an enviable post and he wiles away his time bouncing a ball against the wall and trying to get transferred to Paris. In the meantime he courts the woman he truly loves, even though that love results in him constantly lying to her. At the same time Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) is in town acting smooth and making a deal to buy some intel on the black market. Before long all hell has broken loose and he's on the run from a well armed group of badasses. Cornered, his only choice leads him straight into the arms of the US government. When they realize an infamous traitor/rogue operative has just wandered into the embassy he's scooted over to Weston's facility. Where more hell breaks loose leaving the future of jaded superspy Frost and idealistic Weston intertwined. Don't worry, this isn't Fled, at least they're not handcuffed together. Nonetheless, there's still a lot that's going to seem familiar at work here.
What happens next is the sort of treatment of espionage and government tomfoolery as moral gray area we've come to expect in spy films. Along with some solid action shot with purposeful grainy camera work, and some spectacularly obvious plot twists. Overall it held my interest most of the way through. The "gee, I knew that's where things were going," aspect is the largest negative. On the more positive side I'd by lying if I claimed at least some of the action didn't accelerate my heart rate. Until the finale that made it possible to settle in and enjoy without fixating on what a disservice the plot was to Washington and Reynolds. Who each do a more than reasonable job embracing the physicality of it the fight scenes.
Given all that I'd mildly recommend Safe House while suggesting folks keep their expectations in check. It's not a bad night out. Just won't leave you clamoring for the teased sequel. At least for me, sometimes a popcorn movie is enough. Though if you really want to try something a bit more original it's worth noting the Academy Award Nominated Shorts (animated and live action) arrive at the Varsity Theater this weekend as well.