Have I ruined contemporary films lately by mentioning how they're all shot in blue/orange contrast?
I think I have mentioned that, but I'm going to do it some more, because once you notice it you can't un-notice it. Presumably, filmmakers do this because blue-orange is high-contrast and looks striking. Alternately, years of Hollywood inbreeding has left our nation's supply of directors of photography colorblind, and their producers and directors — notorious softies that they are — don't have the heart to ask them to please use some of the other colors the rest of humanity is capable of seeing.
There's no real solution to this. Well, other than mass drownings, and no one ever wants to listen to that suggestion. Even when it could have saved a bundle on college educations, Mom. I guess we'll just have to wait for the current generation of filmmakers to die or get replaced by robots. Until then, enjoy all the blue and orange your eyes can handle, courtesy of films such as the new thriller Safe House.
CIA agent Ryan Reynolds is frustrated by his post at a disused safe house in Cape Town, South Africa. His boredom is shattered when rogue agent Denzel Washington turns himself in after being attacked in the streets.
Washington is brought to the safe house. Immediately, it's attacked, too. Reynolds escapes with Washington in tow, but as the only remaining agent in the area, he's all that stands between Washington and the crew who wants him dead.
Man, the guys making The Bourne Legacy are going to be pissed when they learn somebody already made a new sequel. Odd choice to replace Matt Damon with Ryan Reynolds, though. And to change his character's name. And to make no references to the other movies at all. Waaaaait a minute, what the hell did I just watch?
Oh. Something that just looks and feels exactly like a Bourne movie. With the same shaky-cam, exotic locales, gritty, choppy fight scenes, and office full of manipulative, corrupt administrators back in Langley to boss Reynolds around. I suppose there's nothing wrong with borrowing from those who came before you.
Incidentally, look for my new book, Pride and Prejudice and Even More Zombies, in stores everywhere.
Thing is, Safe House doesn't even steal the Bourne template very well. We don't ever really get to know Reynolds' character, other than the fact he has an attractive French girlfriend, but who doesn't? There's no real growth to him, either. One minute, he's bouncing a tennis ball off the walls of his safe house, unknown and untested. The next minute, he's bombing down the street like it's Mario Kart, and he just got a star. It must be nice to be so good at what you do that even when you have no experience whatsoever you easily outdo the veteran professionals trying to kill you.
At least Washington brings his usual charisma to his own half-baked role. Mmm, half-baked rolls. What does Washington get paid, anyway? Is it all the money? It probably should be. When he's on screen, Safe House is something I'm actually interested in seeing.
Except he's not much of a character either, making his limited arc just as predictable as Reynolds'. He doesn't really live up to his billing as a master manipulator, either. Unless the low-level boredom I felt was all a cunning ruse to lower my expectations for his next movie.
On the one hand, there's nothing monstrously wrong with Safe House. Director Daniel Espinosa apes the styles of Paul Greengrass and Tony Scott competently enough. The story makes sense. In a vacuum, it might even be mildly entertaining, if also dusty and covered in cat hair. But compared to the other spy thrillers it imitates, Safe House is instantly forgettable.