I can never quite get my head around Denzel Washington being a bad-ass. In my mind he's an ordinary, everyman hero-of-the-people so whenever he plays a psycho or supervillain I always feel like I'm watching my dad dress up in a Freddie Krueger Halloween costume. It might be scary, but I know it's still my dad underneath.
In Daniel Espinosa's Safe House, Denzel plays Evil Jack Bauer, a former CIA agent who's been off reservation so long, redemption seems impossible (should he even wants it in the first place). When Dark Denz comes into possession of a secret MacGuffin that could bring down some very bad people in very high places, suddenly everybody wants a piece of him: from waterboarding aficionado Robert Patrick (memo to the former X-Files Agent Doggett: who ate all the cow pies?) to sneaky espionage chiefs Sam Shepard, Brendan Gleeson and Vera Farmiga.
That's certainly a top notch cast... though the real star of Safe House is Ryan Reynolds, playing a vulnerable young pup determined to teach old dog Denzel some new tricks. Despite starring in the worst film of 2011, Reynolds can do little wrong in my eyes. He's an action hero with a heart and it's good to see him flexing his acting chops beyond his usual twinkly-eyed smart-ass roles to stand up against Denzel and co. in a Bourne-esque thriller that benefits from a fast-paced (and only occasionally implausible) plot and imaginative South African locations.
A cut above your average action movie then... if you can swallow Denzel as a bad-ass. (Robert Patrick certainly looks like he's game.)