As the adverts finish and the reel starts you are introduced to an energetic yet somewhat lonely figure. Without knowing who this man is or what cause he follows you have literally no idea what his motive is for training alone nor do you gain any idea why he was there in the first instance throughout the film. All you can gather from these simple, entrancing opening scenes is that this man will be spending the next 1 hour and 55 minutes fighting against a faceless, potentially exhausting enemy. These scenes lay the mood perfectly for what ensues beyond.
Set in a modern day city environment Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) a young, ambitious CIA operative holds the role of safe house-keeper. It is his job to look after potentially dangerous criminals in a secure environment where they have no access to the outside world. Weston however has been looked over for several months and becomes restless; until a detainee named Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) is given into his care. Things however do not go to plan in regards to his new assignment and Weston quickly finds himself on the run with Frost in tow.
I will speak no more of the films plot so onto the Good, the Bad and the Score.
Writer David Guggenheim has pulled of an almost (and I stress almost) masterful piece of work. Many twists and turns throughout leave you ‘grasping at straws’ as to who’s behind the attacks and constant threats. I myself struggled to predict the outcome of the finale and I left the screening extremely satisfied with what had transpired. The reason why I stress ‘almost’ is down to the seemingly sudden end to it all. Just as the penultimate scenes unfold and the reality of the film sinks in, it is literally within the next 5 minutes you leave the film behind and ponder at what happened. Although the story was intricately woven into a brilliant film, you somehow feel that the end to it all was a bit sudden and leaves you with a few unanswered questions (No chance of a sequel either).
The character development throughout the film is absolutely wonderful. You are continuously bombarded with new pieces of information regarding the back story of the two lead actors which leads to you realising that they aren’t as far apart in a moral sense as you first thought. Of particular note is the involvement of Weston’s love interest Catherine Linklater (Vera Farmiga) and the reason for this is down to the way in which she dips in and out of the story at points leading to a shrouding mystery into her involvement in the grand scale of things. Is she involved? Is she not? I’ll leave you to decide on that one, although you will definitely know when the proverbial curtains are drawn.
I feel obliged to tell you about the performances of the two lead actors in this film and that I will do. I will start with Ryan Reynolds and let me begin by stating that I am not his biggest fan. My first experience of Reynolds as an actor was in The Amityville Horror remake from roughly 8/9 years ago. My memories of that film are forgettable and in general it was a poor showing but standing out in my critique of that film was Ryan’s role as George Lutz, parapsychological psychopath extraordinaire. In my opinion the film lacked any real tension, atmosphere and acting ability. As Ryan was a central figure in that god awful excuse for a motion picture I took it upon myself to steer clear of film’s containing the name Ryan Reynolds. Now though I am glad to say that I have converted into somewhat of a fan of Ryan’s after his good deeds in this film and look forward to his next Hollywood adventure. As for Denzel, well, get back to me when you’ve seen a film he didn’t deserve applause for.
Two issues with the film which is pretty good considering that many people have reviewed it as average. The first one is a major concern from my point of view and the finger of blame is pointed towards director Daniel Espinoza. Now I will forgive him for this as it is his first major Hollywood production but I unfortunately cannot forget. In moments where Weston is sharing his deepest, most loving emotions with his partner Linklater you seem to experience almost earthquake like camera shakes (sorry for the over-exaggeration). Whether this was Espinoza’s intention remains to be seen but I found it extremely off-putting and became more concerned as to why the cameraman seemed to be experiencing convulsive involuntary spasms rather than focusing on the scene itself.
Secondly, at two points in the film the sound just seems to retract in volume. The best example of this is in the scene where Weston has Frost handcuffed to the wall in the small apartment just after the first car chase. They converse about Weston’s love life and he instantaneously loses his patience. In this same moment he throws a nearby table over to which you would expect a rather large din. Instead you here the equivalent of dropping your dinner fork on the laminate dining room floor. I have no idea whether this was solely a problem with my screening or whether it is a widespread problem. I do however have a witness in case you fickle movie fans think I’m just plain insane.
All in all I found three things with this film:
- Denzel Washington is still a boss.
- A new found fan-fare for both Guggenheim and Reynolds
- Turning tables is about as loud as dropping forks
I therefore knight this film with a very respectable 7/10