Film Short: Safe House
If only this exasperated second-hand superspy thriller weren’t so earnest, it might have the good self-spoofing grace to say what it really is: The Bourne I Wanna be. Picture Ryan Reynolds as a dutiful young CIA upstart, with Denzel Washington as a fugitive rogue agent. Now imagine them together, reluctantly, in a South Africa-set adventure of lethal mental and physical combat, plus mentoring! With plot threads about confused loyalties and corruptions handled roughly so as to become frayed, screenwriter David Guggenheim and director Daniel Espinosa mostly just pump in an atmosphere of volatility. But Reynolds huffs and puffs like a marathoner who won’t let anything keep him from his finish line, and Washington not working very hard still has a way of doing competent work. Efficiently dignified supporting players, stuck mostly in the obligatory control room full of phones and screens and agitated explanations, include Sam Shepard, Brendan Gleeson, and Vera Farmiga. J.K.