Safe House ends up being predictable and a waste of talent

Safe House proves a theory that I have–it does not matter how fine an actor you may have (and there are a few in this film) a movie can sink without a strong script. We have seen it before–Troy, Public Enemies and it is the truth when it comes to this film.  It has great performances–okay fight sequences–an interesting premise–and yet, none of it adds up to much because it’s all too familiar and fails to impress.  Actually, you forget about it as soon as the credits roll. 

The screenplay is the backbone of any feature, which is why I follow screenwriters as much as I do actors and directors.  Christopher Nolan? I’m there.  Aaron Sorkin? Done.  Brit Marling? I’m game.  Newcomer David Guggenheim almost had something here…almost. Unfortunately, he falls victim to predictability.  Okay, for the masses this may work and Safe House has performed decently in the box office. But for those of us with pickier taste, it is too easy–too familiar.  Guggenheim follows the “formula” too closely and there are NO surprises.  At one point I thought “That can’t be right? That’s too simple and glaringly apparent!”  But, nope it was that simple.  Deep sigh. 

It is a sad waste of a great cast.  Denzel Washington does the best he can with what he has, but again…not much there.  Ryan Reynolds is underrated and quite good (check out Buried and The Nines if you doubt it) and has nothing to do here.  Brendan Gleeson, who is one of my favorite character actors (The Guard is brilliant!), is poorly used.  Vera Farmiga, who I think is one of our strongest female leads, is given nothing.  You can see the theme running through this–nothing–wasted–yeah…it is sad.

This is Swedish director Daniel Espinosa first American film and with the box office numbers I am sure he will get another chance to direct in the US.  I have not seen his first film Easy Money, but have heard good things.  Espinosa does a fine job with what he has to work with.  He can create tension and has a good eye for details, but again–that is all wasted.  🙂

So, bottom line? You can go watch Safe House and you will more than likely be engaged for almost 2 hours, but that’s about it.  Yeah. You know what I am going to say…it’s a waste. 

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Took me 4 years to discover the awesomeness of being In Bruges!

(2008)

WOW!  I loved In Bruges!  This film is the perfect combination of a dark, human comedy and  an emotional character study.  Brilliant!  Now, I understand the excitement for writer/director Martin McDonagh‘s next film Seven Psychopaths and will wait anxiously for its 2012 release.

It is hard for movies to surprise me.  Without trying, I usually see connections and predict possibilities, but McDonagh kept me in the dark for most of this narrative, which allowed for small unexpected awesomeness!   What appears to be a typical tale about two professional hitmen in hiding in the city of Bruges in Belgium, awaiting their gangster boss’ instructions, turns out to be an intricate narrative with layers of depth and meaning.  McDonagh’s direction is tight and lean–there are no wasted or unnecessary shots, which keeps the pace brisk and energetic. 

The cast is perfect!  Colin Farrell can be hit and miss with me, but he is dead on as the younger of the hitmen.  This is the kind of performance that makes you sad when you see him wasting his talent on unworthy crap.  C’mon Colin!  No more crap, please.  (I did love his turn in Fright Night  last year–so maybe things are looking up)  Then you have the often overlooked brilliance of Brendan Gleeson  as the older hitmen (if you haven’t seen The Guard–make that happen! It is great).  Round it off with the genius that is Ralph Fiennes, as the cranky and hilarious boss and you have magic.  And as we all know–magic on-screen can be a rare phenomenon.  It was also clever to use the city of Bruges purposefully, so that it too, becomes another interesting character–“It’s like a f-ing fairy tale!”

So, rent it, put it in your Netflix queue, Redbox it, whatever you have to do…but if you, like me, have waited to watch this–put it on your must see list.  And if you’ve already enjoyed it –you can just sit back and say, DUH! 🙂

Check out the official website:

Focus Films In Bruges