First Hit: A lot of shooting, confusing story, and Denzel has some nice lines to say.
The story is somewhat confusing because we never deeply understand why Tobin Frost (played by Denzel Washington) decides to become a rogue agent.
Once a premier CIA agent, he splits from the agency and starts trading in top secrets and information to other people and agencies throughout the world. There is a moment where he tries to share his angst for killing innocent people but it falls flat.
The film starts with Frost picking up and getting ready to sell some files about MI6 and CIA agents. A group tries to kill him after he picks up the electronic files encased in a small capsule so, for safety, he runs to the U.S. embassy and turns himself in.
He’s taken to a “Safe House” run by Matt Weston (played by Ryan Reynolds). Weston is bored with his job because no one stays at his house. He lies to his live-in girlfriend Ana (played by Nora Arnezeder) that he does different work. He makes up excuses to not be available to her when Frost is taken his “Safe House” for interrogation.
However, Matt does love Ana which is one part of the story that works. While being interrogated, the “Safe House” is raided by the same guys who were trying to kill Frost earlier, so Weston grabs Frost and escapes through a secret hall out of the house.
Stealing a car he calls the CIA and gets instructions about what to do next. Frost, who likes to get into people's heads, asks Matt how the assassins knew he was in the “Safe House”? It took Weston most of the film to figure it out, while most of the film audience knew who sold him out much earlier.
There are lots of chases, some good like the initial car chase and some not so good, like one of the rooftop chases (too long). The CIA heads who are assisting Weston were his boss David Barlow (played by Brendan Gleeson), Catherine Linklater (played by Vera Farmiga), and their boss Harlan Whitford (played by Sam Shepard).
Washington is OK in this role but hampered by the script and direction. The story didn’t let him expand and create a deeper more interesting character. Reynolds was better as the restless “Safe House” keeper. His character was expanded by his love for Ana and some real questions about his job choice. Arnezeder was OK in this limited role. Gleeson was too transparent and his real role slipped out too early. Farmiga was out of her element and didn’t come off as a real, let alone strong CIA team leader. Shepard was strong in his role. David Guggenheim wrote a poorly constructed script with little depth. It stayed on the surface and there was little character development. Daniel Espinosa directed this with little regard for depth but very long on shooting and killing action.
Overall: This film had a lot of violence which took away from what could have been something thrilling.