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Safe House (2012)

Release Date:
Friday, February 10, 2012

MPAA Rating:

Rating Reason:
Strong violence throughout and some language

Action, Suspense

Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Robert Patrick, Sam Shepard, Liam Cunningham, Joel Kinnaman, Tanit Phoenix, Ruben Blades, Stephen Bishop, Jake McLaughlin

Written By:
David Guggenheim

Daniel Espinosa

Official Site:

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.

Safe House (2012) | Review

16 Blocks Of Cape Town
Jacob Sahms

Content Image
Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) is that guy. You know the one: bent on advancing his career by whatever means possible, ignoring the risk, and assuming that he knows enough to survive whatever situation that the job throws at him. In this case, that job is the care of a safe house in Cape Town for the CIA. But his career has meant sitting at an empty house and he's begging his controller (Brendan Gleeson) for a bigger task, a better gig, and juggling the lie of his occupation with the love of his beautiful girlfriend. And then Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) shows up in his previously unused safe house and all hell breaks loose.

This one plays out much like you'd expect it to given the trailers (which might give too much via preview) as Reynolds' Weston takes on the caretaker role of Bruce Willis' in 16 Blocks (or Robert De Niro in Midnight Run, if you prefer) to Washington's fugitive played by Mos Def (or Charles Grodin, to complete the parallel). Both guys are at each other's throats figuratively and literally, but they must learn to fight together as they uncover a worldwide CIA conspiracy that seeps into all of their relationships. It's a classic government conspiracy that blends the best of the Bourne movies with the beauty and wonder of Cape Town, even amidst its poverty.

Overall, it plays out pretty predictably but the action is fierce in quick machine-gun bursts. Reynolds throws some mean punches as a home-trained rookie battling against trained killers, and Danny Espinosa allows Washington to get his in as well, with more experience. Some of the car scenes, and one chase across the Cape Town roofs, prove to be absolutely exhilarating and some of the violence drew honest exclamations from the crowded theater where I viewed the movie. The action itself was intense, and unfortunately, it was the sparse bits of meat that ultimately disappointed.

We know that Weston is an orphan, having grown up without a father figure to call on when he has questions about his job or his love life. But the movie inserts two options for "father figures," the debonair traitor Frost and the sly covert agent (Gleeson). The two men offer Reynolds' Weston attractive opportunities, and its up to him to decide which is better for him. Which is the angel and which is the devil? Can you have all the knowledge in the world and not really know anything about right and wrong? What results is a testament to learning on the job, and a lesson in recognizing that some things are black and white, even when the world attempts to tell you that it's just shades of gray. Idealism meets reality, and everyone gets to choose one way or another, and Weston is our entree into that conversation.

Copyright © 2012 Hollywood Jesus. All rights reserved.
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