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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

Familiar But Still Exciting

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The opening sequence to Safe House is so much fun that you almost forget that you've seen all of this before. The self-assured, incredibly-talented spy staying one step-ahead of his pursuers. The eager, inexperienced rookie still full of ideals and naivete as to how things really work in the clandestine world of espionage. The overseers in the suits trying to keep a situation from getting out of hand. The set-ups and the double-crosses, the car chases and fist fights, this all pretty standard fare for this genre. And yet, somehow Safe House keeps the tension and excitement high despite the fact it doesn't stray too far from the beaten path. This has everything to do with some strong performances and mostly solid direction.

Denzel Washington simmers with intensity in a role that, admittedly, he could do in his sleep. Still, it's awesome to see him play the ultimate spy staying one step ahead of everyone else as he pursues his own agenda. It's also great to see him boil over every now and then as that rage that's constantly just beneath the surface of this character occasionally boils over. Denzel owns this part, owns this role, and owns the screen every time he's on it in Safe House. Ryan Reynolds does his best to keep up, and surprisingly does a pretty good job. Not only is he convincing in the action sequences, but he's convincing as a genuinely nice guy with high ideals who gets in way over his head and has to deal with the fact that not everything is quite as black and white as he thought. However those strong performances wouldn't have worked if the action wasn't equally as intense; fortunately it is. I thought it was fairly amusing that there a couple times when a gun went off in the movie that actually caused the audience to jump. It's a testament to how the tight direction keeps things tense throughout. While none of this action is all that fresh, it's still done well enough and with enough of a gritty edge as to not feel too derivative. Occasionally, however, the Bourne influence of shaky camera to ratchet up the intensity stumbles into that too-shaky-for-its own good territory as there a few things where you can't track what's going on. You know something awesome is happening, but you can't really see it, and that just isn't good in a action flick.

The other major disappointment is that this movie can't keep a secret. Part of the formula for a movie in this genre is that you have to have someone who's trusted turn out to be not trustworthy at all; rather, they're the ones who've pulled the strings all along. Well, Safe House tips its hand as to who this is far too early and way too often, so there isn't much of a surprise when the inevitable reveal occurs. Safe House sticks so close to the conventions of movies like this that it's no surprise that it happens, but I still would have liked to have been taken surprise by who it was; but no, like a kid who can't wait to tell someone what they got mom for Christmas, this movie points out the bad guy early on and then frequently throughout the rest of the story.

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