Safe, boring plot in Denzel Washington’s ‘Safe House’
Denzel Washington stars in “Safe House.”
- “Safe House”
★ 1/2 (out of four)
2012, Dir. Daniel Espinosa, U.S., R
“Safe House” is rated R for violence and profanity.
- New films
Director: David Wain.
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd.
The plot: A couple decides to live out on a rural commune, where
free love rules.
- Film roundup
★★★ 1/2 (out of four)
“Chronicle” is full of engaging set pieces: the boys’ initial
experimentations in a suburban backyard, hilarious and uniquely
charming in a “Jackass” kind of way; their first attempt at flight,
which is among the most exciting and visceral sequences I’ve ever
seen in a superhero flick; the high school talent show, in which
our heroes enrapture their peers with a “magic act”; and, of
course, the climactic battle that comes after the most powerful of
the three decides to use his powers to lash out at a cruel and
unaccepting society. The film sometimes hiccups when trying to be
too heavy-handed with the material, but the scenes that do work
vastly outnumber those that stumble, and at 80-something minutes
the film is a tight, lean little ditty that will knock your socks
off with far more vigor than most.
As director Joe Carnahan has noted in recent interviews, Liam
Neeson has established himself as one of the last true “men” in a
Hollywood system choking on an influx of preening sissies trying to
pass themselves off as action stars. But Neeson is a true man’s
man, and his very particular set of skills are put to effective use
in “The Grey,” a borderline-existentialist survival thriller that
pits Neeson and a handful of other plane crash survivors against a
pack of hungry wolves in the Alaskan wilderness. The film has been
billed as an action thrill-ride, but don’t be fooled: Despite the
sudden bursts of violence that pepper the movie, this is largely a
mood piece, tackling the Big Issues of life and death and the
psychological processes people go through when faced with the
prospect of their imminent demise.
“WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN”
The film is essentially an examination of pain (focusing not on
the processes of healing or the pursuit of closure or true
catharsis, but rather the fruitless search for “meaning” in
senseless human tragedy), and as such could have easily fallen into
the usual trappings that often render such projects more
self-important than socially relevant. But Ramsay strikes the
perfect tone throughout the film, alternating between brief
flashback scenes depicting the nightmarish relationship between
mother and son (starting at birth), and “present day” sequences
that show us the mother’s vain attempts to reclaim some sense of
normalcy following the high school massacre for which her son was
“TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY”
“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” is based on the classic novel of the
same name by John le Carre, which is widely considered to be the
greatest spy story ever told. It is the sophomore directorial
effort of Tomas Alfredson, who gave us the beautifully realized
“Let the Right One In” just a few years ago. It boasts one of the
most impressive casts of any movie last year, including Gary
Oldman, Colin Firth, Ciaran Hinds, John Hurt, Toby Jones and Tom
Hardy. And it’s a gorgeous film visually, perfectly capturing the
look, feel and all-encompassing paranoia of the Cold War at its
Posted: Friday, February 17, 2012 9:20 am
Updated: 11:14 am, Fri Feb 17, 2012.
As evidenced by this week‘s review, the quality of new wide
releases appears to be dipping again — a definite disappointment,
considering how strong the year started off.
Next week, thankfully, this lack of potential review fodder will
be of little consequence, as we’ll be knee-deep in Oscar gossip
with my annual cover story and I’ll be able to dodge both “Ghost
Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” and “This Means War” — thank God for
Friday, February 17, 2012 9:20 am.
Updated: 11:14 am.