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After the Credits Volver a "After the Credits "

At the movies with Covo & Ayotte: “Safe House”

By Angela Covo and Dennis Ayotte, Jr. | 10 de febrero de 2012

Film critics Angela Covo and Dennis Ayotte, Jr., bring you the truth about Hollywood’s current offerings every week. Look for their reviews at www.laprensasa.com under the “At the movies” tab whenever you need to know more about the latest films. Check La Prensa online for the duo’s interviews with Luis Guzman and other stars from upcoming films. Remember, for 2012 the team switched to a classical FIVE STAR RATING system. Also, thanks to the growing audience using “At the movies with Covo & Ayotte” as a tool to pick the best pics, Covo & Ayotte’s reviews are now also available online at the Santikos Theaters website at Santikos Cine-Opsis at blog.santikos.com. Next week, look for the duo’s review for “Act of Valor” and “Chico and Rita,” nominated for best animated feature for this year’s Oscars and screening soon at Guadalupe’s CineFest.

San Antonio.- Film critics Angela Covo and Dennis Ayotte, Jr., bring you the truth about Hollywood’s current offerings every week. Look for their reviews at www.laprensasa.com under the “At the movies” tab whenever you need to know more about the latest films. Check La Prensa online for the duo’s interviews with Luis Guzman and other stars from upcoming films. Remember, for 2012 the team switched to a classical FIVE STAR RATING system. Also, thanks to the growing audience using “At the movies with Covo & Ayotte” as a tool to pick the best pics, Covo & Ayotte’s reviews are now also available online at the Santikos Theaters website at Santikos Cine-Opsis at blog.santikos.com. Next week, look for the duo’s review for “Act of Valor” and “Chico and Rita,” nominated for best animated feature for this year’s Oscars and screening soon at Guadalupe’s CineFest.

By Angela Covo and Dennis Ayotte, Jr.
angela.covo@gmail.com and dennisayottejr@gmail.com

THE NEW COVO & AYOTTE GUIDE:

  • INSTANT CLASSIC! FIVE STARS
  • DON'T MISS! FOUR STARS
  • DON'T WAIT! THREE STARS
  • DON'T RUSH! TWO STARS
  • DON'T BOTHER! ONE STAR  

Covo on “Safe House”: Don’t wait! 3.5 stars

Action-film lovers and aficionados of 24, rejoice! This is the film to pull us out of the winter doldrums.

While this movie may not be for everyone, if you enjoy a good espionage yarn and adrenaline-filled shoot ‘em ups, this film is for you. And for me.

Yes, there may be too many shoot-outs, the torture scene is ridiculous (seconds of water-boarding interrupted by … wait for it … a shoot-out) and the film has a measure of predictability, but all that pales in comparison to the solid performances by Denzel Washington as Tobin Frost, a rogue CIA agent, and Ryan Reynolds as Matt, the younger, not-yet-jaded version of Washington’s Frost.

The chemistry between these two characters builds to a fever pitch that gets the audience involved and I would even say mesmerized from beginning to end.

According to the production notes, the early call to the set almost a month before shooting the film was a gift. In addition to the heavy prep a movie of this scale entails, it provided the performers with the chance to uncover the eccentricities of their characters.

Beyond motivation, though, many in the cast were called upon to take part in breathless stunts. The director praises stunt coordinator Greg Powell for making it all come together.

"Greg is a genius," Director Daniel Espinosa said. "He comes from a generation of stunt coordinators who have it in their blood, and their imagination is endless. It was fun to watch them create a sense of gravity. We had a car, for example, with a professional stunt driver on top [Lee Millam], with the actor inside the car pretending to drive. When I was in the car, it felt like you could hit the wall at any second, but it was quite safe."
And while the screenplay wasn’t perfect – it’s the best Hollywood has offered audiences so far in 2012.

Producer Scott Stuber explains he was intrigued by David Guggenheim's screenplay after only a few pages and preemptively purchased the work months before it made a splash in the industry -- and landed on the infamous "Black List" of the best unproduced scripts in circulation.

"In this job, you read a lot of material-articles, books and screenplays and sometimes you see a nugget of an idea that you think could be a movie," Stuber said. "What was great about David's screenplay for Safe House is that it read perfectly like a film from the first draft. I saw the movie and the characters, and we were lucky enough to get it."

I feel very comfortable recommending this movie to those readers who enjoy action flicks mixed up with a little intrigue – go enjoy yourselves for a couple of hours, you will not be disappointed. Not too much in the way of bad language, but plenty of bloody violence makes this film inappropriate for children.

The film runs for almost 2 hours and is rated R. It opens nationwide Friday, February 10.

Ayotte on “Safe House” Don’t rush! 2 1/2 stars

Denzel Washington (Tobin Frost) and Ryan Reynolds (Matthew Westin) are awesome together in director Daniel Espinosa’s film “Safe House.” Matt Westin (Reynolds) is burdened with the task of keeping an eye on the CIA’s most notorious trader, Tobin Frost, played by Washington.

The cinematography of the film is also a highlight as its shot with grittiness and displays some nifty editing. It’s everything you’d want in an action flick and maybe a little too much.

After about the fourteenth shoot-out scene it gets a little old—bad guys try to kill Frost but he magically walks away from it with a Michael Myers type strut. For the most part, Washington plays Frost as a cool character but toward the end you sense his enemies are getting that much closer to killing him.

All the while, Reynolds, who plays a fresh-faced CIA agent, is panicked and in way over his head as he tries to keep Frost in custody. After the safe house is compromised the film finally comes alive. Prior to the raid the movie lacks the gusto to keep you intrigued as you’re introduced to a few different storylines.

“Safe House” has your classic (and a bit overplayed) trader on the inside who is leaking the duo’s location of in an effort to kill Frost before he can leak the damaging information on some of the world’s most respected crime bureaus. In my opinion, it’s not hard to find out who the mole is but some may disagree. Espinosa doesn’t do a great job of keeping you at bay wondering who might be responsible for giving up the two men’s whereabouts.

I had high hopes for “Safe House.” It had so much promise to be a great film and separate itself from most of the lackluster films released so far this year, but it just comes up short—for many reasons— including the abundant amount of shoot-out scenes, the shallow storyline and the ending. The ending is dreadful in that it’s a cliffhanger of sorts.

Overall, I say go in with low expectations and you’ll be happy. It’s something you’re not going to want to take the whole family to; its better-suited as a bachelor flick. Grab your best bud and take him on a man-date because some women at least, may not enjoy the 32 shoot-out scenes the film boasts.

 

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