He must have joined "The Agency" with an eye toward excitement, exotic locales and danger. But in Capetown, a backwater as far as foreign intrigue goes, agency newcomer Matt Weston is stuck running a never-used "safe house" in the CIA's real-estate portfolio.

"I'm staring at four walls all day," Matt (Ryan Reynolds) complains to his boss.

Until the day he hosts America's "most notorious traitor," a sell-to-the-highest-bidder rogue named Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington). Frost doesn't want to be a "houseguest." And a lot of ruthless people want to get their hands on him.

That's the set-up for "Safe House," a pulse-pounding secret-agent variation on the "everybody's out to get you" thriller formula. Well-cast, well-acted and brilliantly shot and edited, it's a thoroughly entertaining peek into spycraft and the spies who practice it.

Washington always relishes playing bad guys, and if Frost isn't "Training Day" evil, he's still a formidable character. As bad guys swoop in and kill men guarding him, he plays mind games with his last surviving captor -- Weston.

Director Daniel Espinosa keeps this movie on wheels -- or on its feet -- with foot chases across rooftops and car escapes through city streets where the new agent must prove his mettle by keeping the pedal to the metal.