February 22, 2012 -- This is a professionally made spy film with the required amounts of suspense, action, intrigue and personality conflicts. There isn't anything all that unusual or surprising about it, but it is very well crafted. It is fast-paced, hard-hitting and its characters are memorable.
The film is directed by Daniel Espinosa, who appears to be a comer. I've not seen any of his previous films, but am looking forward to his future ones. There doesn't appear to be any aspect of this particular genre he hasn't mastered. Of course it helps to have a great actor like Denzel Washington (“Unstoppable”) in the pivotal role of rogue spy Tobin Frost who has a secret file of turncoat spies he hopes to sell for big money.
Surrounded by killers, Frost turns himself in to the American Consulate in Cape Town, South Africa. He is transferred to a safe house run by CIA operative Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds of “The Green Lantern”). The safe house is attacked by squad of hit men, but Matt and Tobin Frost escape the attack and go on the run. It soon becomes obvious that someone high up in the CIA wants Tobin dead. Matt cannot trust his superiors. This puts him on the spot.
Matt is an ambitious man who has long felt his talents under utilized manning the safe house, where nothing at all happened for months until the fateful day Tobin Frost comes through the door. When Tobin escapes, Matt hunts him down. In the end, Matt and Tobin only have each other to rely on. In this regard, the film is similar to some of those mismatched cop buddy films. Cinematographer Oliver Wood (the “Bourne” movies) makes good use of hand-held cameras for many of the film's dynamic action scenes, which include fights, gun battles and chases by car and on foot.
Others in the movie include CIA officials Catherine Linklater (Vera Farmiga of “Up in the Air”) David Barlow (Brendan Gleeson of “In Bruges”) and Harlan Whitford (Sam Shepard of “Blackthorne”). Nora Arnezeder plays Matt's girlfriend, Ana Moreau, who finds herself in jeopardy. The body count is high in this movie, and most of it is very serious, but there are touches of humor here and there, using little things, like the turn of a recurring phrase in David Guggenheim's screenplay. At the end of the film, when Matt says “I'll take it from here,” you know something good is coming up soon, and it is. This film rates a B.
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