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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Denzel Washington
Ryan Reynolds
Vera Farmiga
Brendan Gleeson
Sam Shepard
Robert Patrick
Liam Cunningham.
Directors
Daniel Espinosa.
Screenwriters
David Guggenheim.
Running Time
114 minutes

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Safe House
Are there any CIA agents who aren’t ‘rogue’?


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Plot
Capetown, South Africa. Rogue CIA agent Tobin Frost (Washington) turns himself in to the US consulate to escape assassins and is taken to a safe house run by inexperienced agent Matt Weston (Reynolds). When the hit team strike again, only Frost and Weston survive. Weston vows to bring Frost in, but Frost forces him to question his own loyalties.


Review
Safe House
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Just by accepting a part with the thumbnail description ‘rogue CIA agent’, Denzel Washington reveals he’s more or less coasting through Safe House. With earnest, busy, likable, hardworking plodder Ryan Reynolds to play off, Washington doesn’t need to engage more than half of his abilities to walk away with the film on sheer charisma, a nice line in superior attitude (Frost warns the debriefing team who are about to waterboard him that they’re using the wrong towels) and a few fast moves (an escape on foot across the tin roofs of township shacks). Without regular collaborator Tony Scott at the helm (Daniel Espinosa has made a few Swedish films, but this is his English-language debut), the star Washington doesn’t even seem to break a sweat as this okay Bourne-type spy thriller dashes between plot points on picturesque yet gritty South African locations.

This type of cynical, implausible action picture works best if it moves too fast to follow, but here pauses to develop character — as rookie Matt Weston learns life lessons from the veteran agent such as it’s difficult to be a spy and have a relationship — let the audience catch up and figure out way too early where it’s going. Is “the legendary Tobin Frost” really the all-round bad guy and betrayer that his CIA apprehend-and-interrogate file makes him out to be? Which of the suited analysts back in Washington — you get a choice of Sam Shepard behind a desk, Vera Farmiga wasted in yet another end-of-a-phone-line role and Brendan Gleeson as hefty yet canny slob — will turn out to be less than 100 per cent good? What’s on the secret file handed over by guest star Liam Cunningham which Frost carries about in a pellet injected into his midriff?

It’s an undemanding, entertaining movie — a lot like a Steven Seagal direct-to-DVD picture in concept, but with lead actors who care enough to take it all seriously, inventive use of South African locations (a chase through one of those old World Cup soccer stadiums), and an array
of solid-to-outstanding supporting players (rising Joel Kinnaman gets to have a brutal fight with Reynolds, veteran Ruben Blades forges a passport).


Verdict
Tolerably exciting spycraft, but stuck with a see-through plot. Washington and Reynolds are watchable, but not exactly stretched by these roles.


Reviewed by Kim Newman


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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Safe House
Empire Star Rating

RE: Safe House

Denzel Washington is one of my favorite actor and I this movie is still good though it was quite predictable still the actors are good and the movie is done great plus we got a free movie pass for this :D ... More

Posted by cherylsturgill at 06:38, 14 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Safe House

Massively pedestrian thriller with little or nothing to recommend it. ... More

Posted by gunstar at 21:23, 08 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Safe House

brilliant movie! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviebuff73 at 20:20, 17 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Safe House

The leads-dull and duller. A boring film,terrible script and phone-in performances. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TragicRomantic at 19:10, 16 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Safe House

I loved this film ... More

Posted by Curitis2012 at 15:49, 16 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Safe House

Really bad and really boring. Couldn't have cared less about Ryan Reynolds or Denzel's characters. ... More

Posted by Timbzy at 05:00, 16 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Safe House

Safe House WARNING!f you need a powerful performance for serious high quality espionage/wartime/crime type thrillers then you call on Mr Washington, its common knowledge. 'The Pelican Brief' 'Man on Fire' 'Inside Man' 'Courage Under Fire' 'The Manchurian Candidate' etc...the man is a serious actor and doesn't do silly summer blockbuster fare. That in mind who better to use in another serious espionage double cross thriller that looks as if it was directed by Ridley Scott. The film co... More

Posted by Phubbs at 00:58, 16 July 2012 | Report This Post


A bit too safe

"Safe House" is technically well made, with its beautiful scenery and fast paced action scenes but it lacks any emotional punch. Denzel Washington is terrific but he has very little to work with here. The film would of benefited with less action and more exchanges between Denzel and Reynolds. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by stevenMcEpic at 19:17, 25 June 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Safe House

I enjoyed this film and was suprised by Reynolds who I expected to struggle in this genre especially alongside Washington, however he pulled it off in my opinion. The film wasn't anything special and was what you would expect from the genre, but was still decent and gives you what you want and expect. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by yazoo88 at 11:12, 19 March 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Safe House

As said earlier this is a solid action film, which unfortunately these days means it's quite predictable and the action is't anything we haven't seen before. However I didn't go in expecting anything more than that and so I was thoroughly pleased. can't believe the reviewer compared it to a Steven Segeal movie . . . ... More

Posted by musht at 00:34, 18 March 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Safe House

Safe house is a safe action packed fast moving movie that for an hour keeps you interested before running out of steam and leaving you standing up at the end turning to friends/loveones and saying "that was okay wasnt it ..? I picked the "twists"and saw the ending coming. Cape Town as a location added little with neither roles pushing Denzel or Reynolds. Decent but I echo other reviews of Bourne Light or the more descriptive Bourne Value, as it just about does the job . ... More

Posted by tommytart at 21:37, 03 March 2012 | Report This Post


I agree with most people here, averagely fun but predictable. Tysmuse hit it on the head with 'both the leads are better than this'. I think the whole, - CIA agent double crossed has to fight against system turns out system is corrupt - thing has been done to death. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Nate_001 at 14:20, 02 March 2012 | Report This Post


I agree with most people here, averagely fun but predictable. Tysmuse hit it on the head with 'both the leads are better than this'. I think the whole, - CIA agent double crossed has to fight against system turns out system is corrupt - thing has been done to death. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Nate_001 at 14:03, 02 March 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Safe House Review

Saw this tonight and thought it was one of the best action thrillers in YEARS.Possibly the best since The Bourne Ultimatum.Reynolds proves he can do more than prance around in superhero costumes and quip which was refreshing.He played this admirably straight and Denzel is reliable as always. The reveal of who the villain is wont really surprise anyoen but its a fun night out at the flicks. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cool Breeze at 00:55, 28 February 2012 | Report This Post


Safe House Review

Though Safe House is anchored by strong performances from both Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, they're let down by a thin script and choppily edited action sequences that betray the film's unfortunate lack of imagination. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 21:43, 26 February 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Safe House

Safe house is at best decent. It rushes throught the first half with all the fists fights, car chases and cut backs to Langley controlrooms. The film slows and limbs to a predictable finish that had all the normal conspiratores and baddies. The Film is set in the amazing Cape town but the films locations are grim and could of been anywhere As the credits appeared I turned and said "it was alright wasnt it??? ... More

Posted by tommytart at 21:04, 25 February 2012 | Report This Post


Meh

Yeah, it's passable. Both the leads are better than this. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 21:01, 25 February 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Safe House

Safe house is at best decent. It marches forward in the first half with a good pace and all you would expect (fist to fist fights, gunfights, car chases, cut backs to CIA control rooms in Langley), before you know it the second half , grinds to a halt, and the film limps to a predictable end. The film is set in the fantastic Cape Town, one of my favourite and beautiful places on earth, but it could of been anyware as the settings are grim and nothing special. Even after a nightshift and rolli... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tommytart at 20:58, 25 February 2012 | Report This Post


watchable.....

...but oh so average! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bretty at 17:59, 25 February 2012 | Report This Post


safe house

good film. its quite predictable but fun nontheless.. enjoy..... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by HERMES_67 at 22:19, 24 February 2012 | Report This Post


safe house

good film. its quite predictable but fun nontheless.. enjoy..... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by HERMES_67 at 22:19, 24 February 2012 | Report This Post


Solid action thriller. Some obvious twists but still a solid spy thriller. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 22:15, 23 February 2012 | Report This Post


Solid action thriller. Some obvious twists but still a solid spy thriller. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 22:15, 23 February 2012 | Report This Post


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