Tag Archives: Denzel Washington

Review: Safe House

Proper pacing is a wonderful thing, especially when you’ve got a movie about a hyper intelligent rogue CIA agent wreaking havoc with some potentially devastating information. Move too slowly and you run the risk of bogging moviegoers down with details that could ultimately become too cumbersome to sort out. Then again, move too quickly and you might not leave enough time for an audience to absorb all the necessary details. No, Safe House doesn’t nestle itself near the happy medium, rather veers towards the quicker side, but leaves just enough breathing room to give the story some weight and still solidify it as a thrill ride.

Working for the CIA sounds like a pretty cool gig, right? Well, apparently before you get to the secret agent stuff, you’ve got to babysit a safe house and Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) has been stuck with that dull duty one month too many. Meanwhile, the CIA’s most notorious traitor, Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington), puts an end to his decade-long hideout and is sent to Matt’s Cape Town safe house.

Matt’s shocked and honored when one of the most brilliant and illusive men in the world is put under his care, but is caught even more off guard when his facility is ambushed by men after Frost. The two narrowly escape and it’s up to Matt to get Frost to a new secure location. However, Frost may be turned, but he still retains all the ability that made him one of the CIA’s best and his manipulation tactics slowly eat away at Matt’s steadfastness.

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Interview: Safe House Director Daniel Espinosa (One-on-One)

Had I seen the Swedish action film Snabba Cash before speaking to the film’s director Daniel Espinosa, I would have known what to expect from both him and his new film; Safe House is one heck of a wild ride. It stars Ryan Reynolds as Matt Weston, a young CIA agent stuck babysitting a safe house. Matt’s desperate to get out in the field as a case agent, but the problem is, they won’t hire him until he gets some experience and there’s no experience to be had in the safe house. Well, that is until Matt gets a high-level houseguest, the CIA’s most notorious traitor, Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington). However, even then, it’s Daniel Kiefer (Robert Patrick) and his men that take over. It isn’t until a group of armed men barrel into the safe house unleashing a barrage of bullets that Matt’s “experience” really begins, as now he’s the only one left to bring Frost safely into CIA custody.

You know the clichéd phrase, “you’ve got to see it to believe it?” That’s certainly the case with Safe House. It’s one thing to kick off the production with a solid script, but a guy like Espinosa is a necessity when it comes to bringing the piece to life the right way. As a director, Espinosa doesn’t hold back in the least, casting the roles as he sees fit, designing car chase sequences even though he doesn’t drive himself and even getting into the wheel well to catch the action.

His methods are both unique and fueled by passion, and that turns Safe Houseinto a thrilling and gripping ride, one you really do have to see to believe. Give the film a go for yourself when it arrives on February 10th and, in the meantime, get a taste of what it was like to bring David Guggenheim’s script to life straight from Espinosa himself in this video interview.

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Interview: Safe House’s Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds

When you’ve got heavy hitters like Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds in the same movie, you’ve got know what you’re getting yourself into.

Washington plays rogue CIA agent Tobin Frost. After staying off the radar for nearly a decade, Frost pops up in Cape Town and is brought to Matt Weston’s (Reynolds) safe house for debriefing. Having merely babysat the facility month after month, Weston’s a bit of a rookie, so having a high profile criminal like Frost in his safe house, is an unnerving experience. And that’s before the mercenaries ambush the location, killing everyone inside and making Weston, Frost’s only chance of survival.

In honor of Safe House’s February 10th release, Washington and Reynolds came to New York City for a press conference. The duo discussed the entire process from studying up for their roles to shooting their particularly gritty fight sequences as well as a disturbing and very real waterboarding scene. Read about that and much more in the interview below.

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Interview: Safe House Director Daniel Espinosa (Press Conference)

According to Ryan Reynolds, “Daniel’s a guy you want to buy stock in,” and after seeing Safe House, I’d have to agree. Safe House is director Daniel Espinosa’s fourth feature, but his very first American film.

It stars Reynolds as Matt Weston, a young CIA agent assigned to a Cape Town safe house, which basically equates to a glorified babysitting job. He reports to his post, listens to some music, throws a ball against a wall and goes home. Sounds like a relaxing day, but not for a guy who’s itching to become a CIA case agent. No experience? No case agent gig. Matt’s luck changes, for better or worse, when the infamous CIA traitor Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) walks through his door. As if it weren’t enough pressure having Frost as his houseguest, Matt’s safe house is ambushed and he becomes the only person left that can bring Frost safely into custody.

After the release of Snabba Cash (Easy Money), scripts began to roll right in for Espinosa. While he knew Safe House was the one for him, it still needed about a year’s worth of work, however, soon enough, that load wasn’t entirely on him, as Washington and Reynolds boarded the project. Not a bad leading duo for your first American feature, huh?

With the February 10th release of Safe House right around the corner, Espinosa came to New York City for a press conference and dished on the details of the entire process from locking his leads, to working in Cape Town and more. Check it all out in the interview below.

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Review: The Book of Eli

Religion in film is always a testy subject. Even if a movie isn’t directly about faith, organizations manage to find minute details to point fingers at. The Book of Eli isn’t one of those movies. Denzel Washington’s name may be plastered all of the posters, but the Bible is at the film’s core. It’s a hypothetical story that makes no harmful allegations, yet its religious connotations will make it impossible for some to accept. On the other hand, for those willing to completely dismiss reality, it’s an enjoyable and action-packed dose of illogicality.

The Book of Eli is about just that, Eli’s book. Okay, it’s a little more complex. Thirty years post-apocalyptic occurrence, Eli (Denzel Washington) stumbles across a bible. Why is this so significant? Because after the apocalypse the men and women remaining turned their back on religion and destroyed every copy. Well, every copy except one and that one belongs to Eli, a seemingly indestructible wanderer wielding a massive machete.

The first twenty minutes of the film are fantastic. The Hughes brothers’ attention to detail is astounding. Everything from the contents of Eli’s pack to the beads of sweat glistening on his forehead makes him endlessly fascinating. But there’s just so far sequences of close-ups and dreary landscape shots can carry you and the brother know it. The first action sequence combines extraordinary choreography with mesmerizing cinematography to show that Eli is capable of far more than moping about the desert.

Eli is all serenity and pacifism when he arrives in the rickety town run by Carnegie (Gary Oldman) obsessed with finding a particular book. Naturally, it doesn’t take long for someone to push Eli’s button forcing him to brandish his weapon and give the townsfolk a serious beat down. Carnegie catches a glimpse of Eli’s talent and tries to enlist him in his team of goons. While hanging out with Solara (Mila Kunis), the daughter of Carnegie’s wife (Jennifer Beals), Eli mutters some verse of the bible, which she innocently repeats in front of the boss man. Oops! That book Carnegie is so desperate to get his hands on? The Bible. And now he knows Eli has the sole copy.

Yes, the plot sounds ridiculous and what I’m about to say is going to sound cliché, but IT’S A MOVIE. Eli walks around with a semi-busted iPod, the country is packing major artillery and everyone has a trendy pair of sunglasses, yet the Bible is nowhere to be found? If you get past the impossibility of the scenario, it’s endlessly entertaining. There’s few people left who know of life pre-destruction and the old-timers left share zero information about the concept of creed. Carnegie thinks that if he can get hold of a Bible, he can spread the word of God but not for the betterment of humanity, so that he can expand his empire.

Oldman is the ideal villain. He’s creepy and ruthless leaving you uneasily awaiting his every move. Carnegie’s every hope and dream relies on getting a copy of the bible and you feel his burning passion for domination. Oldman’s ability to bring Carnegie to life so vividly leaves Washington in a haze. You’re content with Eli muttering and milling about at first, but once more vibrant characters are introduced, like Carnegie, he’s kind of boring. Luckily Solara befriends the brooding hero bringing out more the buried elements of his personality. Kunis is also responsible for infusing the film with some much-needed heart. The battle between Eli and Carnegie keeps your heart races, but it’s Kunis’ story that makes it endearing. Solara’s portion of the film is really a coming of age story. You want her to survive and thrive, which ultimately makes you deeply concerned for Eli’s safety.

Solara’s story gives The Book of Eli some heart, but in the end it’s just a nonsensical action movie. The finale will be extremely difficult, if not impossible for some to digest, but for those who can push practicality aside, it’s a rewarding culmination. Having to put your brain on cruise control to appreciate a movie is never a good sign, but in The Book of Eli’s case, letting yourself go for two hours is well worth it.

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