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SAFE PAIR OF HANDS

Safe House is the latest film starring Denzel Washington and I went to see it recently, just before its release. The English-language feature debut from Swedish director Daniel Espinosa, Safe House is about CIA agent Tobin Frost (Washington), assumed to be a rogue agent by the CIA themselves but he is forced to return to the fold when he is left vulnerable in South Africa. He is taken to the safe house of the title, run by Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds). But the safe house is breached and so Weston has to try to keep Frost safe while they’re on the run. Elements within the CIA are after Frost because he has a list of compromised agents from every major security agency on the planet including MI5 and the CIA. On paper, you would think that Washington is a little bit too old for a role like this and that Safe House would just be another predictable and improbable action movie. But to Espinosa and Washington’s credit, it has a slightly off-kilter feel, both in the directing and the acting, so it does keep you watching. Reynolds as the less experienced agent turns in a decent performance even though he does feel outmatched at times by Washington. Support from Brendan Gleeson and Vera Farmiga as the senior CIA heads is very solid and the South Africa setting lends it a different mood to the scores of American-set suspense thrillers we’ve seen over the years. Espinosa is definitely a name to watch and if you like action thrillers with a little bit of intelligence, then Safe House is for you…

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UNDERGROUND HIT?
I went to see Buried last week. A film made by Spanish director Rodrigo Cortes and starring Ryan Reynolds (Hal Jordan in next year’s Green Lantern), it is truly a one-hander in the ultimate sense. Reynolds plays lorry driver Paul Conroy who was working in Iraq and has now been captured by an insurgent group. So Conroy is trapped in a wooden coffin somewhere in the country, waiting to be rescued with only a mobile phone for company. Buried isn’t a film that you could rewatch because it is rather harrowing but you have to give credit to Reynolds, who embodies the all-American here, a man who has been left to dry by the company that sent him there. He shows that he is actually a pretty decent actor as Buried stands or falls on his performance. The cinematography is suitably claustrophobic throughout and Cortes really does manage to give you enough to keep you watching for its 90 minute duration. Buried feels a little bit like a Seventies film as it doesn’t employ the gimmicks of something like a Blair Witch but its lo-fi feel does place the viewer in the box with Conroy. And you just know that it isn’t going to end well. From the start, you have this feeling. But the journey is engaging and unsettling at times and Reynolds is very good. Incredible to think that he’ll be flying around in a green CGI costume fighting space monsters next summer. Buried is an interesting curio and one that holds the viewer’s attention while he or she is watching it. So it’s definitely a smart choice for people interested in cinema…