Tag Archives: thriller

Safe House

I’m not sure in which genre to categorize this film… Is it a thriller, a drama, action? Or a bit of all three. And very well done in all respects.

Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) is a CIA operative that has gone rogue and has been at large for about 10 years. In this time, he has uncovered secrets, sold information, and caused havoc for the CIA and beyond.

Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) has been the “housekeeper” in an extremely quiet section of Johannesburg for almost a year and he is itching to get out in the field. Matt’s handler, David Barlow (Brendan Gleeson) explains that he has no field experience. But to get a field position, he needs experience, but cannot get experience because he is stuck at the safe house.  See his dilemma?

Tobin has been in Johannesburg, doing what he does best and has come up against a situation he could not immediately escape. So his best option was to walk in the US embassy and be taken into custody. From there he becomes a “houseguest” of Weston’s.

And then, “SURPRISE!”, Weston gets his wish. Somehow, the super secret Safe House has been compromised by the very same people who nearly captured Frost earlier. Like a good host, Weston escorts his guest to new accommodations. (And Robert Patrick gets Steven Seagal‘d, a la Executive Decision.)

While in transit, there are a few bumps, bruises, gunshots and deaths, and most importantly, a mystery to be solved. How was Frost found?

It was good to see Ryan Reynolds acting again! From some of his recent movies, I was getting the impression he was going down the road that Jim Carrey had named after him, “Be the same Freakin Character, but in a Different Movie” lane.

Denzel does a very good job as the quiet, cerebral, and physically capable asset who “…literally rewrote the book on interrogation.” He has to be all of these things for us to believe he has survived hiding from one of, if not the most capable organizations at tracking people in the world.

Nora Arnezeder plays Ana Moreau, Weston’s girlfriend. While she does not have a large part, I feel it is important and well executed. This time, the love story is germane to the story, so I am not opposed to it.

I only noticed a few logic flaws in Safe House. The most glaringly obvious of which was when Weston called his girlfriend from a public phone, the CIA did not lock on and track the source of the call. The reason this is a “problem” for me is the order to watch the girlfriend was given by Harlan Whitford (Sam Shepard), in a room full of agents, using multi million dollar technology to track Weston and Frost, and nobody is watching the phone?!?!? (And on that note, why was Weston stupid enough not to use a burn phone?)

The only other complaint I have is the camera work. Too much MTV quick cuts and Bourne Supremacy hand held crap, particularly during the fight scenes. Both Denzel and Ryan have been around the block enough to know how to handle themselves, let them show us!

The Crazies

The-Crazies-Poster“The Crazies” is what I would call a realistically based thriller. (I choose not to use the term “horror,” based on many of the films that disgrace that genre) There are no 7 foot, knife wielding ,invincible monsters running around. As it turns out, this is a remake of the 1973 George Romero flick by the same name. Not to mention, he executive produced the current incarnation, which infers there is a possibility of zombie like beings.

David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant) is the sheriff of a small corner of Iowa, with in striking distance of  Cedar Rapids. You can’t get anymore Mid-America than that.

This movie wastes no time getting to the point. In about 4 minutes, we are treated to our first victim. The set up is simple… Something is affecting the inhabitants, causing unusual, then lethal behavior. The infected show signs of disassociation and stoic, if not zombie like, behavior. (The George Romero influence)

The source of the infection is a downed plane which carried a military biological weapon that seeped into the water supply. We are told later the contagion was being shipped to Atlanta for destruction. It’s purpose was to destabilize the population. Yep, it certainly does that.

One of the great selling points for me is the characters feel real, and they do real things. No BS running through the woods in heels, tripping, and screaming. No having sex at the scariest lake on the planet where countless others have died. David is a Sheriff, his wife Judy (Radha Mitchell) is a doctor, albeit a pregnant doctor. They aren’t stupid. They investigate, process information, rationalize, and proceed accordingly. After examining the information before them, they deduce they are screwed and do what they must to survive. Survival involves not drinking the water, avoiding the infected where ever possible, and being practical. They try to get the hell out of a bad situation.

One thing that is potentially scary, is the military shows signs of intelligence. When the townspeople are being rounded up, the readily available vehicles are booted to avoid escape by anyone missed in the sweep. (I think burning them would be easier and cheaper.) There are more moments of potential wisdom, but I don’t want to give it all away!

Deputy Russell Clank (Joe Anderson) is subtle “comedy” relief. I use quotes because there is nothing truly humorous in this film. There are some moments of wit where they may snap at each other and make snide comments, but no one is trying to be stand-up comic funny. Joe gives a good performance as the troubled man on the edge trying to deal with an impossible situation.

“The Crazies” turned out to more gruesome than I expected, though I don’t think it ever crossed the line into splatterfest. I was left with some lasting visions of a near apocalypse, one of which is going through the automated car wash… The end moments dangle their metaphoric toes in the water of becoming Hollywoody, but never takes the full jump.

Simply put, I enjoyed “The Crazies.” I was startled a few times, enjoyed a twist or two, and held my breath. It is one of the better thrillers I’ve seen in some time.