Film (with rating): Safe House (R)
young and ambitious CIA agent must look after a fugitive in a South African
safe house. But when that hiding
place is attacked, he and the fugitive are on the run and on a mission.
“Safe House” is a strong, smart, action-packed film that explodes,
thanks to the powerful chemistry and acting chops of the two leads. Denzel
Washington and Ryan Reynolds are perfectly cast in this drama and both showcase
a wealth of acting talent. Who knew while watching “Van Wilder” that
Reynolds had it in him to be such a powerhouse? Sure, he’s had a few (dozen) bombs in his acting career, but
he’s able to overcome them. Such as with “Safe House.”
The movie starts out with Matt Weston (Reynolds), a bored
CIA rookie chomping at the bit to step his career into high gear, twiddling his
thumbs as the housekeeper in a safe house where nothing happens. All day, every
day. Until Tobin Frost (Washington) breaks it all wide open. Frost is the
agency’s most notorious, most dangerous traitor. He knows something, something
big, and it’s hard to tell exactly what he’s trying to bring down. When he
uncovers some information and narrowly avoids being shot in South Africa, he
turns himself in to the American Embassy, despite years on the run. This brings
him to Weston’s safe house. And shortly after his arrival, trained assassins
attack, and the only two left standing are Weston and Frost.
This is where things get good. We’ve got action combined
with a psychological tug-of-war. Is this a mentor/mentee relationship, or is
Frost yanking Weston’s chain? Who is the real bad guy here? Frost, or someone
else? “Safe House” has a “Bourne Identity” feel to it,
which is not a bad thing. Despite Frost being nailed as a threat, the viewer
starts to see him as one of the good guys. But is he?
Director Daniel Espinosa does a great job blending the
high-octane action sequences with the quiet moments of dialog between Frost and
Weston. That up-and-down emotional rollercoaster adds to the movie-watching
Sure, there are some holes in the plot, the ending is a bit
weak and the whole relationship between Weston and his girlfriend lacks any
chemistry whatsoever. But overall, “Safe House” is exactly the kind
of smart and engaging actioner that would fit in well right about now as we
ramp up to start the summer season in style.
“Inside the CIA”
What to serve for dinner: A traditional dish from South Africa: Bobotie (http://africhef.com/).
1 lb beef, minced
2 slices stale white bread
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp cooking oil
2 tbsp hot water
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp curry powder
tsp ground cloves
1 tsp garlic, crushed
1 tsp turmeric tsp salt
The bobotie topping
1 egg, lightly beaten
bay leaves or lemon leaves for garnishing
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Remove the crusts from the
bread and the soak in water for 10 minutes; squeeze out the excess and then
In a large frying pan, heat the oil and braise the onion
until golden. Break the two eggs into a large bowl and beat lightly. Mix in the
minced meat. Add the onion mixture
from the frying pan, the hot water, lemon juice, crumbled bread, turmeric and
sugar to the mince, mixing well.
Spoon the mixture into a well-greased, oven-proof dish and
bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown and then remove from the oven.
To make the bobotie topping
Combine the other egg with the milk and beat well. Pour the
mixture over the bobotie and arrange the bay/lemon leaves as garnish. Return to
the oven and bake at 350 o F for 10 minutes, or until the topping has set.
Serve the bobotie with a large green salad and rice.
What to talk about over dinner: Did you have the ending figured out? At what point
did you start liking Tobin Frost? Did you believe that a rookie like Weston
could do all he did? What was your favorite scene? What did you find the least
believable? Would you ever want to be
a CIA agent? What is your favorite Denzel movie? How is that man such an
acting legend? Favorite Ryan Reynolds movie? Probably not “Green