Safe House (2012) Film Review


Safe House is the best action/drama ever. Alright, that’s a ridiculously big call. But I just loved it. The only reason I saw this movie was that it was on at a good time. Seems that is often how I pick movies – probably not the most intelligent way to pick them, but now and then, it really works.

This film is dark, gritty and real and I loved the filth of it. The filth of the characters and the places and the plot.

The opening sequence really set up the way the story was going to be told – lots of jump editing, hand held camera work and dark shadows. By editing several scenes together with the audio from one over the top (no, not a montage as such, but more like a jigsaw) director Daniel Espinosa it able to pack in a whole heap of character and plot development into a short time. At almost two hours, it’s a pretty long film, but it covers so much in that time.

Ryan Reynolds plays a young CIA agent who ends up on his own with a rogue agent (actually, I’m not sure he’s called that, but I got all Alias for a moment) played by Denzel Washington. I didn’t really know who Reynolds was (a bit like the way I didn’t really know who Ryan Gosling was until Ides of March) but I was pretty darn impressed with this performance. I have to admit, the storyline of the young, naïve company man who ends up disillusioned with the company is getting a bit tedious for me. Especially when too much of the film is slow, close-ups on said man as the penny drops. Still, I liked this one. Washington is a very attractive man, especially when he smiles, and thank goodness he gets to do that a lot in this film. Plus he gets to look cool with a gun. I do like that. Plus the wonderful Brendan Gleeson is in it – I’ll see anything that man does, although it’s hard to get used to him with an American accent.

The film often confused me – something happened and I had no idea what or to whom, but I didn’t care. Eventually, it became clear, and that was all that mattered. The foley was amazing – things really sounded real, especially in the many, many fight sequences. The cinematography was also wonderful, often showing things from a single character’s point of view, leaving the audience missing the same pieces of information that the character was. This really heightened the excitement for me.

Overall, awesome. See it on a big screen with big sound. It needs it.

Gangster Squad (2013) – Film Review


It’s post World War 2 in Los Angeles. Gangsters are rising across the country. LA is being taken over by Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn). The police are corrupt, and their hands are tied by legal restraints while Cohen takes over every racket possible. The chief of police Chief Parker (Nick Nolte) decides he needs to go to great lengths to beat Cohen, and commissions Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) to pull together a squad of police who will work beneath the radar to destroy Cohen’s business interests, therefore ensuring not only his demise, but reducing chances of another gangster coming in to take Cohen’s place. The Gangster Squad they set about cleaning up the city.

There is some clichéd predictability (most notably the fact that Sgt Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling) starts as a corrupt playboy who only joins the squad after an innocent shoeshine is killed in front of him and he wants to right this wrong), but generally, it’s a good concept. I have to admit, though, it just didn’t grab me. There was not a lot of emotional connection to the characters, so I didn’t care who lived or died. The tension wasn’t all that great either, and when there was tension, it was resolved quickly and easily. It’s a fun film and worth a watch, but I felt that it really could have been much more.