{2jtab: Movie Review}

Safe House - Movie Review


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2 stars

Safe House, directed by Daniel Espinosa, is exactly the formulaic claptrap you expect it to be.  Action meets Thriller meets Spy vs. Spy meets standard Hollywood laziness.  Unfortunately for moviegoers, Safe House plays it a bit too safe for a bit too long and, in spite of its engaging cast, is completely forgettable.  If you’ve seen one spy-type thriller, then you’ve seen the majority of Safe House.

Written by David Guggenheim, Safe House tells the story of turncoat CIA agent, Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington), who earns his dough and spends his time selling stateside secrets to the highest bidder.  When a deal goes bad in Cape Town, South Africa, the heavily-wanted Frost finds a sort of sanctuary inside the American consulate after a series of bullets can't find their target.

His “Wanted For Treason” status means he gets whisked away into a (not-so) safe house.  Here, greenborne field agent Matt Weston, played by Ryan Reynolds, takes over watch on Frost’s threatened security and must do battle with the gun-toting goons who wanted Frost dead when the movie opens.  It seems the enemy is closer than first expected.  The duo of Washington and Reynolds provide enough charm and charisma to keep the audience entertained as the usual flair is upended.  Washington chews the scenery well.  Reynolds provides the muscle.  Together, they cat-and-mouse each other into an unending battle of wits…or something close to that.

Together, the boys flee the safe house and get involved in a deadly chase that may or may not lead to a potential mole within the CIA who is pulling the strings on a number of unnamed assassins who want Frost and Weston dead.  Co-starring Vera Farminga, Brendon Gleeson, Sam Shephard, and Ruben Blades, the burden of making Safe House memorable lies not on the shoulders of its well-formed cast.

As Spongebob Squarepants says, “Imaaaaagination” is the key and here, inside the Safe House, imagination is largely missing.  The set-up is paper thin (you know how this ends) and can’t garner enough interest on its own, so Espinosa swaps scripted suspense for hand-held close-ups, one after the other in Bourne-like fashion, but then surrenders international espionage for a quick fix in choppy action edits.  We wouldn't want to have to ruin this film with a little thought, right?  This would all be acceptable if Espinosa wasn’t aiming for the moon and pretending his purpose was poetry when, as written, this is just simple matinee fodder.  He tries to be Soderbergh with McG material.

Ultimately, Safe House doesn't even live up to its initial idea: a quasi-buddy movie with a bit of transatlantic brains behind it.  Tactics abroad are simplified for three-second attention spans and well-worn ideas sputter out without ever landing a correct fit.  The script never deals out a fair amount of credibility, so those who like to think during movies are going to be a bit entertained with loopholes, predictable moments, and sudden happenings.

While the actors deliver, the script is humorless.  The message trumps the media and it clump, clump, clumps along in a noisy manner.  Safe House arrives without tension and without danger.  It’s thunder without the rain.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Safe House - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: R for strong violence throughout and some language.
: Daniel Espinosa
: David Guggenheim
Denzel Washington; Ryan Reynolds, Vera Farmiga; Sam Shepard
: Action | Thriller
No One Is Safe.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Remember rule number one: you are responsible for your house guest. I'm your house guest."
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date: February 10, 2012
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
June 5, 2012.

Synopsis: Oscar winner Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds star in the action-thriller Safe House. Washington plays the most dangerous renegade from the CIA, who comes back onto the grid after a decade on the run. When the South African safe house he's remanded to is attacked by mercenaries, a rookie operative (Reynolds) escapes with him. Now, the unlikely allies must stay alive long enough to uncover who wants them dead.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
2 stars

3 stars

Blu-ray Experience
2.5 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - June 5, 2012
115 mins.
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: DTS 5.1; Spanish: DTS 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); UV digital copy; DVD copy; BD-Live; D-Box; Mobile features
Region Encoding: Region-free



  • None

Special Features:

  • U-Control Features
  • Universal Second Screen Experience
  • Making Safe House
  • Hand-to-Hand Action
  • Shooting the Safe House Attack
  • Building the Rooftop Chase
  • Behind the Action
  • Inside the CIA
  • Safe Harbor: Cape Town
  • My Scenes Bookmarking

{2jtab: Trailer}