Premise: (from IMDB) When a band of villains ruin a CIA-operated safe house, the facility’s young house-sitter must work to go the offender who’s being concealed there to another secure location. About: This is a first time spec sale for David Guggenheim, but he’s not just a complete foreigner to the business enterprise. David is a senior editor at US Weekly and, as Variety is reporting, the brother of Marc Guggenheim, one of FlashForward’s early showrunners.
Matt Weston can be an eager 28-season old worker for the CIA residing in Rio De Janeiro with a Brazillian beauty who puts Matthew McConaughey’s baby mamma to shame. I say “worker” because he’s nearly an agent yet. Actually, Matt is above Ace Ventura on the company totem pole hardly, relegated to the work of a “housekeeper” at a safe house. On the other side of town is Tobin Frost, a 55-year-old ex-CIA field official. Imagine Jason Bourne in 20 years.
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That’s this guy. But Frost has gone from the grid for over a decade and is thought to be offering CIA Intel to anyone with a Swiss Bank Account or some juicy Intel of their own. He’s hit the motherload evidently, as the latest information he’s obtained has him hunted by a lethal assassin named Emile Vargas.
Frost may have been able to manage this guy 25 % of a century ago, but the best have to confess when they need help even. Problem is, the only nearby help is the institution he’s betrayed, the American Embassy. So Frost does the unthinkable. He walks right into the Eagle’s Den.
The Americans send Frost to Matt’s safe house before CIA can get down here and remove him. But let’s just say Frost won’t have to worry about purchasing the every week discount. The Safe House is attacked by mercenaries we believe are led by Vargas immediately. Frost and Matt escape somehow, and discover themselves on the run quickly. Frost seems to have other plans, specifically to get the hell from Matt and out of Rio away.
The script shifts its concentrate to a couple of things after that: Action and more action. Safe House sometimes feels as though one gigantic action sequence, and I must confess, it’s written quite well. Guggenheim comes after the unwritten spec guideline of keeping everything slim and rarely, if, burdening us with a 4-series chunk of action. Actually, every action explanation is 2 lines or less almost, making sure that things read faster when compared to a Shani Davis 200-meter run.
While the action does get repetitive at times, Guggenheim continues it fresh with Frost repeatedly escaping Matt, and Matt having to again go catch him. Safe House is a great spec, but there have been a couple of things that bothered me about it. First off, I knew nothing at all about safe houses entering this script, and I can say that I don’t really know much about them now either. I mean, if you asked me the largest lesson I learned all about safe houses, it would be that they’re not safe in any way! Every safe house each goes to is breached within minutes.
There are obviously extenuating circumstances here, but even taking those into consideration, from just how these places were defined, they seemed to be different than a local hotel room no, except for a CIA officer holding court. I guess I expected them to become more heavily fortified or something. Or have some special qualities.
Maybe a better explanation of what these things are within the next draft would be helpful. I also would’ve liked a few more twists and turns before the last act, and a better explanation for why Frost flipped on the company. His description was a touch too general for my taste (his reasoning amounted compared to that the agency lies too much).