Safe House

2 out of 5 stars
Safe House

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

Somewhere in Cape Town, hidden in plain sight, there's an elevator. For a year now, Matt Weston (Reynolds) has boarded the lift---down, of course---to his dead-end job as a CIA safe-house sentry. This increasingly impatient grunt spends his days watching monitors and throwing around a tennis ball, and his evenings lying to his gorgeous girlfriend about where he works (national security and all). Weston dreams of a more active life in the field, and his chance inadvertently comes when rogue operative Tobin Frost (Washington) walks into South Africa's U.S. Embassy after some bloody, bullet-exchanging to-do. It isn't long before the duo is united in the aforementioned structure---Weston just needs to mind the store while Frost is interrogated. But then the mercenaries with guns show up.

The rest of Daniel Espinosa's slick, hacky thriller alternates between hyperactive skulduggery---pounding hand-to-hand combat scenes and screechy car chases cut with the Tony Scott Cuisinart---and moody men-on-a-mission existentialism. A going-through-the-motions Washington acts the conveniently prescient Zen master to Reynolds's colorlessly strapping tenderfoot. Good actors like Vera Farmiga and Brendan Gleeson show up to bust balls and bark expository dialogue with check-in-the-bank-yet? proficiency. Add in a couple of dully pro forma narrative twists to keep you awake in between shots of distractingly exotic South African scenery, and you've got a first-quarter Hollywood release par excellence. Meaning not.

Follow Keith Uhlich on Twitter: @keithuhlich

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