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Conventional but Effective Action-Thriller
claudio_carvalho16 June 2012
In Cape Town, South Aftica, the rookie CIA agent Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) is a safe house keeper and is in love with his French girlfriend Ana Moreau (Nora Arnezeder) that does not know about his double life.

When the most wanted rogue and former CIA agent Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) surrenders to the American Consulate to escape from an attack of dangerous soldiers of fortune, he is brought to the safe house to be interrogated by the specialist Daniel Kiefer (Robert Patrick) and his team. However there is a breach in the safe house and mercenaries break in the place expecting to capture Tobin Frost and they kill Daniel and his men. Matt escapes with Tobin and he contacts the CIA senior management Harlan Whitford (Sam Shepard), David Barlow (Brendan Gleeson) and Catherine Linklater (Vera Farmiga) that give instruction to Matt to reach another safe house with the prisoner. But Tobin warns Matt that there is an informer in the CIA and he shall not trust in anyone.

"Safe House" is a conventional but effective action-thriller with the usual shootings, car chases and explosions. But the great cast, with the charismatic Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds; great veteran actors Brendan Gleeson and Sam Shepard; the always excellent Vera Farmiga; and the gorgeous and unknown Nora Arnezeder, makes the difference. The Hollywoodian commercial happy end is unrealistic but certainly will pleasure a great number of viewers. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Protegendo o Inimigo" ("Protecting the Enemy")
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Nothing really new but a good choice of actors, effects and locations
kluseba22 February 2012
If you have seen conspiracy flicks like "Enemy Of The State", "The Bourne Identity", "XIII", "Unknown" and so on and so forth, you really won't be surprised by this movie. The story presents nothing new and is about the usual stereotypes: the good one turn out to be the bad ones, the bad ones turn out to be the good ones, the weak ones turn out to be the strong ones and so one. I think you get what I mean. The movie has no big surprises after all.

But if this kind of movie is well done, it can still merit a rating of eight points. I only give six point five and for this site seven points because of the mediocre camera work that was shaking and irritating at some points of the movie.

The rest of the film is quite decent. The locations are interesting and the movie takes place in Cape Town in South Africa and not in Europe or North America. The fighting and action scenes are very well done and with the visual and sound effects in cinema, it's a pleasant entertainment to watch this movie for sure. It's a good flick to change your mind, to relax and to take a break from your everyday life for sure. The acting is also rather good with two strong lead actors that are a very cool Denzel Washington and a sympathetic and determined Ryan Reynolds.

The only little flaw is that I would have liked to know more about both characters, especially about their past and what really led them to do what they actually do in the movie.

The movie simply has not the greatest script to stand out among many other similar flicks but it's still a good film. I would suggest you to rather watch the movies I talked about in my introduction or classics like "I As In Icarus" but if you have seen and liked them all, you will surely appreciate this work, too.
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This is NOT a safe house.
jdesando9 February 2012
"I'm not your only enemy tonight." Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington)

In Safe House, Tobin Frost is one cool fugitive, but then he's played by one of Hollywood's coolest actors: Denzel Washington. Guarding him is young CIA agent Matt Weston played by the prominent film actor, Ryan Reynolds. Together they make good acting possible; if only this crime adventure would let them.

Instead, their moments are mere interludes to the cacophony of guns and gore, a smorgasbord of thriller clichés planted in neat rows by director Daniel Espinosa and blossoming glass and guts ad nauseam. As the cool Frost escapes numerous captures and Weston follows him (they've discovered the "safe house" is not so safe), I wish they'd sit and talk for an hour because the older agent has much to tell the younger about love (Matt has a questioning girlfriend) and survival in the den of thieves known as espionage—global that is. Frost has a computer file with the names of bad cops, some of them friends and supervisors. So nobody's safe.

Among the vulnerable are seriously good actors like Sam Shephard, Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, and Robert Patrick. The shame is they have parts so formulaic as to obliterate their acting excellence.

Anyway, you get the routine. The only surprise is that this type of film continues to entertain us even when we know the plot points. In part that's because we like to see good/bad guys played by the likes of Denzel work their way through some challenging puzzles and achieve some success just as we try to do in our daily lives. Also we get to see multiple car crashes without being in them, a wish we may have subconsciously when we experience road rage.

I suggest you leave your rational hat at home (most of the plot makes little sense) and wear your thrill-seeking one because this film will fulfill all your demands for excitement without touching a nerve in your left brain.
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Reynolds & Washington a Strong Duo
FFman-847-46012611 February 2012
It is so very difficult to find new material when you piece together a governmental conspiracy movie. Safe House is able to do it to a point. The greatest success of this movie is the usage of modern film techniques. Too often the bulging budget and ability to edit in effects makes action/thriller movies extremely unrealistic. Safe House does the opposite. It takes all of these techniques and uses them to make the movie raw and real.

The actors were hand-picked perfectly for their roles. Ryan Reynolds is the actor you have to use when you want to put a likable, relatable family man in a difficult situation. As a CIA operative caught up in something far outside his experience, he fits in perfectly. As for Denzel Washington, there is little that he can't do. For the unique character of Tobin Frost, there is no better man to fill the role. Together they form a storyline that merely needs to be able to stand on its own two feet. The storyline does stand on its own. That being said, it is the weakest part of the movie. The twists have all been seen before. This movie doesn't offer new plot points to the old conspiracy theory movie. It merely adds new characters. The new characters are great, but it is not enough. In order for the movie to be great, it needed to give something new to the story.

I must say that the end was beautiful. Without giving anything away, it was gracefully preformed. It wrapped up the loose ends that too many other movies simply leave hanging. It adds a whole other dimension to Ryan Reynolds' character. It will, without a doubt, leave you wanting more but somehow completely satisfied.

Safe House is worth a trip to the theatre. With thrillers such as this one, the action is better on the big screen. Between the action and the actors, you will not be disappointed. Next to Liam Neeson's The Grey, this is one of the best action movies so far this year. The thing is, it could have been even better. Too bad.
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Predictable but Entertaining, Excellent Performances
bdgill1222 February 2012
I'm of the opinion that out of all the movie stars and would-be movie stars in Hollywood, Denzel Washington is one of, if not THE, safest bet. I say this because I don't think I've ever met a person who dislikes the man. In a culture that is built upon strong opinions and holding to said opinions fiercely (this is the backbone of the industry in many ways), it is a remarkable feat to put together a 20+ year career like Denzel has without drawing the ire of someone or some group. Age, race, and gender seem to matter not when it comes to Denzel, whose films almost always find a way to exceed expectations whether they are magnificent (Training Day, American Gangster) or wholly lackluster (John Q, Unstoppable). There is an overriding sense among a high percentage of moviegoers that if Denzel is in, so are they. Safe House, a solid if uninspired action thriller, has proved this theory to be true. Instead of the undercover investigations and shoot outs he expected when he joined the CIA, Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) has been relegated to manning a safe house in Cape Town, South Africa. He is bored and he wants some action, a desire that is all too well fulfilled at the outset of the film when former CIA agent-turned-traitor Tobin Frost (Washington) is brought to his house for interrogation. Soon after his arrival, a militant force arrives to take possession of Frost, killing the highly-trained team that brought Frost into the house. With no other option, Weston grabs Frost and makes a bolt for it, barely escaping the unknown villains who killed his comrades. With no other teams in the area, Weston's superior, David Barlow (Brendan Gleeson), tasks him with keeping Frost alive and in custody until he can be collected, a proposition which turns out to be much more difficult and complex than Weston would have ever imagined. With the assailants hot on their trail and Frost crawling deeper and deeper in Weston's head, the young agent must think fast and learn on the run before he becomes another casualty of a dirty battle that Frost has sucked him into. There are a few departures from the main storyline at work within Safe House but these distractions are only there to lengthen the film and add some uninteresting depth. This film lives and dies on the performances of Reynolds and Washington, both of whom come through beautifully. It's been a rough year for Reynolds whose star status has been thrown into serious question with the failures of Green Lantern and The Change-Up. This role, however, is a better fit for him, allowing him to share the load with an established genre veteran instead of being relied upon to carry a major film on his own. I was pleasantly surprised at his ability to give Weston more depth than what you usually get with this sort of film and I thought he hit the right balance between being a half- terrified, inexperienced field agent and being that hardened, "see this thing through to the bitter end" character that Safe House had to have. Washington, meanwhile, is a tour de force, exuding both charisma and menace in just the right amounts. Always a commanding presence on the screen no matter what his role, Washington is at his best when delivering his lines in that quiet, calm, measured manner which he has become famous for and this is a role that calls upon that ability several times. I can't say that this is one of Washington's best portrayals and it's certainly a safer choice than I'd like to see an actor of his caliber make, but it is nonetheless a reminder of exactly why just about everybody digs what this guy has been selling for two decades. Every other element of Safe House plays second fiddle to the work done by the two leads. The action is intense and somewhat gritty; when a shot is fired, you feel it as much as hear it, a characteristic I quite like in a serious action film. The plot itself is rife with generalities and clichés, making the film about as paint-by-numbers as they come. Personally, though, I didn't get caught up in these half-hearted missteps too often. Better choices could certainly be made; the major "twist" could be seen from a mile away and the conclusion was unsatisfactory for me. But given director Daniel Espinosa's relative inexperience behind the camera and the sheer power of Washington's star appeal, these are issues I found easy to overlook as the film progressed. It's nothing new and it's not a film I want to watch a dozen times over but for what it is, Safe House provides an entertaining and appealing experience.
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I did not expect it to be this good.
Nesvrstani9 February 2012
I'll be honest. When I saw the trailer, I was madly excited. It looked fantastic. But then, after a while, I remembered, that the main point of a trailer is to do just that. Hype the film, while revealing literally all the main plot scenes and parts. I didn't know if it was the case with 'Safe House', since, hey, it's Denzel Washington. That man doesn't just do any role.

I just got back from the movie theater, and am I glad that I was wrong. The movie is fantastic, electrifying. Do know that I don't just 'get off' on any action flick. In most cases, I just watch and forget. This was actually, fantastic. I don't have a single bad word to say about it, the way it was directed, acted or anything else. Everything was simply fantastic.

I realize my words sound absurd, and the score looks the same, but it really is worth it. I didn't see an action movie this well written, and this well acted in a really, really long time. Of course, by the end of the movie, any experienced watcher will figure out the ending by himself, but even though you 'get it', it's still extremely fun to sit through and see how the pieces connect.

I really hate long reviews, so I'm trying to make this one as short and sweet as possible. Lastly, have in mind that not one cast member failed his role. Ryan was fantastic, even better then I could've imagined (a nice showing of his acting skills after Green Lantern and Change-Up), and Denzel, what to say that hasn't been already said about that man's acting. Phenomenal doesn't cut it.

Go and see it. It's much better then anything else thats currently 'showing'.
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Danzel Saves What Really Is A Mess
hrmnrabb10 February 2012
It's an interesting albeit predictable action flick that's nothing special but delivers enough to make it worthwhile. It does feature what has to be the dumbest CIA operatives/handlers ever put on film. What transpires, especially early, will make most viewers say "why in the world didn't they just…" but getting past that means enjoying a film where Denzel Washington perfectly menaces and charms his way through every scene. Put just about anyone else in this role and the film would lose a lot. Ryan Reynolds was good enough and the rest of the stellar supporting cast is absolutely wasted. Again, I found it interesting despite it being three repetitive acts of mindless turns highlighting that the government is pure evil and they apparently keeping hiring the same set of mindless goons who race around guns blazing everywhere with little effect or competence whatsoever. Also, the camera work was AWFUL in terms of the overuse of the shaky cam.
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"Safe House" is a exhilarating action thriller with explosive stunts and sequences.
deanccastano7 February 2012
One of the CIA's most wanted, Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington), is back on the run after a ten-year disappearance. This alerts the CIA and sends their team to a gripping chase in Cape Town, South Africa. At a remote location, the CIA's safe house is guarded by a rookie operative, Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds). The house have been empty for years, involving no guests or action. At the arrival of Frost and the intelligence, a brutal investigation occurs. Phased by the presence of a notorious criminal, Weston becomes nervous and confused. In the midst of questioning, mercenaries invade the house and begins a killing spree in an effort to kidnap Frost as well. Frost reminds Weston, that as a house guest, he is to be protected. This sends Weston to a dizzying panic and eventually escapes along with Frost.

"Safe House" is a exhilarating action thriller with explosive stunts and sequences. The team behind the film stages multiple exciting scenes that involve beat down rooftops in the rural areas as well as heart-stopping car chases along the streets. Frost is an intelligent man. Being a former intelligence, who's gone rogue, he knows the rules and procedures. Most of the time, he's fascinated by watching Weston carry out his duties. Weston is continuously conflicted, looking for ways to hide Frost. Yet, Frost never makes it easy for him, as he tries to escape as well. Weston communicates with one of his supervisors, David Barlow (Brendan Gleeson), to determine their next move. But, the gunmen are determined to kill Frost, forcing Weston to take matters into his own hands.

Denzel Washington is an actor full of intensity. He can sit there and watch Reynolds do his thing and still convey the deepest of his character's emotions. He gives Frost both a terrifying presence and a sympathetic feel. Ryan Reynolds, on the other hand, manages to stand along Washington and give the same intensity. His wits and charisma works perfectly for his distressed rookie persona. The film succeeds best because of this tandem, allowing the actors to build a good enough relationship to carry out the entire film.

"Safe House" is a great action thriller with non-stop action. This is the first mainstream feature for Daniel Espinosa and he comes forth as promising due to his skillful camera work with the action scenes. One of the most impressive is the rooftop chase at night. The editing is pitch perfect as it allows the audience to feel the danger of the situation from each point of view. This film could have been bleak and predictable if the leads were miscast but Washington and Reynolds' enigma make the film satisfyingly fun and fresh.
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Fulfills Its Popcorn Intentions But Little Else
Simon_Says_Movies12 February 2012
Safe House is a movie that fulfils its popcorn intentions, but metaphorically brings to mind the image of a bobble-head – a bloated brain supported by little else, springing uncontrollably in different directions. When the action ramps up, Safe House is at its best, providing ample energy, a plethora or gunplay and a number of gritty combat sequences. When pausing to forward the plot, spew exposition or focus on perfunctory romances, it grinds to a halt. Safe House would be better viewed with a remote equipped with a fast forward button nearby.

Thankfully for Safe House, the sequences with action outnumber those without, so it comes out on top on a percentage basis alone. What makes it slip just out of the realm of solid praise is that it really fails as a tense, psychological duel of wits. I mean c'mon you have the one of the coolest actors working today (Denzel Washington of course) trying to escape his confines with only a lowly safe house guard (Ryan Reynolds) in his way – use it! The trailers and radio ads prominently feature the line "I'm already in your head", but the movie itself offers little in the way of subtle manipulation or mind games. All we get are a few scenes where Washington's Tobin Frost intimidates the crap out of the inexperienced operative and forebodingly warns that the CIA will screw him one day.

Now that I've kicked this movie while it's down, let me tell you what it does very well: bloodshed. I already mentioned the ample high-octane set pieces, but of course volume of action does not always translate directly to a solid film ("Transformers" springs to mind) it has to bring something to the table. Safe House earns its R-rating in many an instance with sometimes uncomfortably realistic shootouts, brutal interrogations and wonderfully choreographed (but wince-inducing) hand- to-hand combat sequences. If you think that John McClane looks rough at the end of a "Die Hard" flick, wait until you see how Reynolds looks when the credits roll. Refreshingly, this is not the kind of movie where a character is shot, grits his teeth a little bit, holds his wound and then ten minutes later they have apparently forgotten about it. You feel every punch and when somebody gets stabbed they writhe on the floor in pain and when somebody gets shot they are likely not getting back up.

There are also a handful of lengthy chase sequences through the streets of Cape Town, a soccer stadium and the slums of Langa and in all instances deliver. They are easy to follow, high-energy and far more real-world than we're normally accustomed when talking about a Hollywood car chase. In all of these sequences (automotive or otherwise) we have Reynolds front and center. Safe House is really a Ryan Reynolds movie masquerading as a Denzel Washington film, though that is not to say Washington is relegated to a just supporting role, it is simply more focused on our in-way-over-his-head rookie than the lethal pro. Reynolds is the surprise here, not only holding his own against the veteran but delivering his best mainstream performance to date (there is not a hint of his wise-cracking The Green Lantern or Deadpool characters to be found here).

Curiously, there were very few one-liners delivered by Washington and though he oozed charisma through his presence alone, I would have liked to see a little more sizzle; one more duty that lands on the script, which just offers nothing in the way of interesting dialogue, insights into the mind of a killer or even a brisk pace for that matter. As a movie to pop in the DVD player with some buds, however (one that you can tune out the downtimes between action set pieces) it delivers absolutely and does offer one of the rarer instances for Washington to do his bad guy thing – a welcome sight.

Rating: 6.5/10
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Shake, Shake, Shake... Shake, Shake, Shake... Shake That Camera...
cultfilmfreaksdotcom17 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
If there wasn't so much expository dialog about how formidable Denzel Washington's rogue agent Tobin Frost is, maybe he wouldn't have to live up to all that infamy once the story's underway.

Beginning with a botched heist in South Africa, leading to Frost turning himself in to the C.I.A. and taken to the first of three Safe Houses, where he's watched by a young agent Weston played by an extremely serious Ryan Reynolds.

But there are a lot of really nasty people who want him dead, and the first of several bombastic action scenes, practically impossible to view as the camera rocks back and forth without ceasing, leads to Weston, with Frost as his prisoner, taking to the streets – till Frost shakes his tail and… When the duo meet again, and we realize the bad guys are supposed to be the good guys (like in every Hollywood film involving the C.I.A.), it's a desperate fight for both agents, now teamed up, to stay alive.

Washington turns in a surprisingly bland performance as a character who, like a Hannibal Lector, is supposed to get into people's minds; and for an agent of his legendary caliber, he seems more confused than cunning. Reynolds holds onto a one-note scowl, and a side story with his beautiful, put-upon girlfriend means absolutely nothing.

But it's that ever-shaky camera that really sinks this clichéd thriller. Take plenty of sea sick pills before getting on this ride, and prepare to blame America all over again. It's getting awfully tiresome...

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Denzel and his rules, mentoring yet another rookie
Ramascreen13 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
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Here we go again with Denzel mentoring a rookie by sharing some of his ground rules. SAFE HOUSE is very formulaic, it only makes you think like it's smart and if it weren't for the intense, unforgiving gunfights, one of the most exciting I've seen in cinema (Tombstone's gunfight still takes top honor) SAFE HOUSE probably wouldn't have much going to help me recommend it to you…

Training Day, Unstoppable, and now SAFE HOUSE, you'd pair up Denzel as a seasoned, experienced character with a rookie or a newbie who eventually steps up to the plate. Denzel is back as Mr. know it all, Mr. one step ahead of you, and he'd proudly preach it too whether or not you'd want to hear it. Ryan Reynolds plays the next Pine or the next Hawke, and just like those other guys, Reynolds' character is fully equipped with the knowledge and is highly skilled but now, situation has shifted to where it forces him to put his own skills to the test. The rookie is always motivated to prove himself worthy and the unlikely mentor, who's used to working alone and has all kinds of ethos, is always entertained by the idea of having a protégé. By the way, why can't Swedish director Daniel Espinosa find his own tone, his own style? Why does he have to make the film look as if it was helmed by Denzel's go-to director, Tony Scott?! It even has that A-D-D feel to it.

I don't necessarily think David Guggenheim's script is all that clever, it's not terrible, but it's nowhere near impressive. Don't get me wrong, the concept is fantastic, a CIA house being breached and you don't know who's responsible and who else may be on it, the line between bad guys and good guys get blurred, those are necessary elements for a pulse pounding thriller. But those of us hardcore fans of thrillers, may it be political or whodunit crime, would easily notice that all that Guggenheim did was put all the CIA smart vocabularies and slang into Tobin Frost's lips (Denzel) and then have the CIA repeats the same thing in their own little playroom and then Guggenheim would throw a series of massive chaos in between. It doesn't take a genius to figure out the bad guy either because you'd always go with the one who seems to be the most supportive, the one who wants to see the protagonists find safety, just so that they may get to them in time and retrieve whatever it is that they withhold, so SAFE HOUSE is exciting but it's hardly smart and it's certainly nothing new.

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Nothing you haven't seen before.
CagedinSanity23 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I wanted to like this. I really did. I love Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds is good enough not to be type-casted while still holding onto his own style.

Unfortunately, nothing works here.

This movie is incredibly simple to summarize, due to it's simplicity. Ryan Reynolds plays a caretaker of a Safe House. He's a CIA agent trying to prove himself, and that chance comes when Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington, and the only character who's name I can even remember) is caught through some suspiciously specific circumstances comes his way.

Sounds cool, right? It's not.

Specifically? It's nothing we haven't seen. Corrupt government, predictable plot points and you'll figure out who the bad guy is halfway through the movie, which takes away some of it's sting. It predictably tried to make us think the woman-agent (I don't even know their names) was working against the office but it wasn't, because the movie pressed to much into her "hardass" attitude. It wasn't believable.

The biggest disappointment was the whole plot point, the MOVIE'S TITLE, was barely utilized. I went in expecting a psychological thriller, maybe 60-75% of the movie taking place in the Safe House as Tobin Frost messes with the minds of everyone around him. That's what the trailers implied anyway. I got no such thing.

Instead, the Safe House is broken into within minutes of Frost entering the building. There's a second safe house later in the movie and it, too, serves little point except the placeholder of the climax. All in all? I doubt we get 10 minutes worth of what is supposed to be the movie's title. Frankly, the movie should have been renamed.

Let's not forget that Frost barely proves his reputation, which we get in a quick scene of exposition as it explains that he "rewrote interrogation protocol" or something. At most, he says about four mindscrewing lines to Reynolds' character, and not much happens with it.

It just felt everything this movie was supposed to be was abandoned.

That's what I didn't like. The fight scenes were fine, the actors were fine, even (some of the) writing was fine. But when I left I found it difficult to like this movie.
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Another turd for the American public
Big_Heavy_Thing12 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
One definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior and expecting different results.

Therefore, I must be insane because I keep thinking American-made espionage movies are going to have a consistent, believable plot instead just a bunch of hyped-up, glossy BS.

I have learned my lesson this time.

Safehouse kept me and the rest of the audience laughing incredulously at the sheer absurdity that unfolded again and again in this tremendously silly film. Allow me to diagram the plot for you:

01. A hit squad - hired by the CIA - knows where their rogue agent is and converges on him to kill him.

02. Rogue agent escapes, only to turn himself in to US government.

03. Bumbling CIA team tries to make him talk, only to be ambushed by original CIA team.

04. Rogue CIA agent is saved by silly patriotic CIA agent.

05. Bumbling CIA leaders argue.

06. Silly patriotic CIA agent tries to turn in rogue agent only to be attacked by original CIA team.

07. Rogue agent escapes and is later recaptured by silly agent.

08. Silly agent is attacked by another CIA agent.

09. Silly agent learns CIA is corrupt.

10. Rogue agent dies and silly agent goes rogue.

So, in other words, the CIA attacks the CIA to try to prevent the CIA from learning that the CIA has dirt of the CIA. Yeah, that makes sense!

In addition to all this garbage, the CIA strike team kills a boatload of innocent civilians, does millions of dollars of property damage, gets two of their top people killed, and then just lets the guy with the damaging intel just walk away at the end. So what was the point of the whole movie?

Also, if the CIA knew where rogue agent Denzel Washington was at the beginning of the movie, why didn't they just kill him up front and be done with it?


The only saving grace this movie has is Denzel Washington who, as always, is a fine actor who conveys depth, empathy, and strong acting. Ryan Reynolds' acting, however, is pretty awful. Throughout the whole movie, he looks constipated and is entirely unbelievable.

The sub-plot, if you want to call it that, with his girlfriend is completely pointless and adds nothing to the film.

This film had a $85 M budget. That money could have been better used teaching bullfrogs how to play the ukulele.
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Too much of too little.
Quietb-110 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
From the trailers you know it's not such a safe house. Denzel Washington doesn't break a sweat. Ryan Reynolds never stops sweating. Vera Farminga is unconvincing as a high level CIA agent spouting exposition.

Plenty of redundant shoot outs, car chases and fights. Generic bad guys kill plenty of we didn't know them good guys. Up close, and in the actors face, digital photography is far too grainy.

Trendy CIA bashing. Quick pace. Plenty of action but not much new or interesting in this except perhaps the South Africa locations. Wait for the DVD.
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Tense action thriller
AlsExGal21 October 2017
Denzel Washington plays a rogue CIA agent hotly pursued by enemy agents who hands himself into the US. embassy in Cape Town as a way of escape from them. He is then taken to a "safe house" where he is to be interrogated but things go awry when the house is attacked by other agents wanting him. A young inexperienced CIA agent (Ryan Reynolds) must then try to take control and get the rogue agent to another safe house.

This is the kind of film in which the audience doesn't know the good guys from the bad, including the CIA agents. There are double crosses and tons of explosive action, with plenty of hand held camera fast edit action scenes from director Daniel Espinosa (there's a certain edgy power here, though too much of it can get on my nerves after a while). There is also a harrowing waterboarding scene.

Washington's character, while considered a traitor to the U.S., is also regarded as a legend within intel circles, having been successfully on the run and eluding all attempts to capture him for a decade as he spills out secrets on various intelligence agencies for the money. Washington plays him as a cool professional, virtually unruffled by all around him, even during an interrogation in which illegal methods are employed against him.

In a film in which so many characters are scummy or potentially scummy, I found myself rooting for Washington. Rogue agent or not, he is one cool customer, and I had to admire his style. Of course, Washington is a powerful screen presence. Any time he's on screen it's all but impossible to take your eyes off him.

Ryan Reynolds, as the somewhat naive CIA agent dealing with him, is adequate, no more. The rest of the cast, including Sam Shepherd as the head of the CIA, is quite good.
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Gritty, Intense and Keeps you Entertained
Floated212 December 2013
Having passed upon seeing Safe House, I didn't have such high expectations as I was expecting another typical big budget action thriller. However, upon viewing Safe House, my expectations were met and a little more. Safe House is fairly predictable and doesn't contain the best story but the film has a certain charm that is lead by its lead actors Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. Right from the start, Safe House wheels you in and it becomes a great thrill ride.

Safe House was far grittier than expected and more so than the typical Hollywood fares nowadays. It fits its R rating appropriately as it doesn't shy away from the violence. The stunts are also well performed. Washington and Reynolds is what specifically makes the film great as they made a great duo and made their roles believable as ever.

The film really picks its pace once we see the first encounter between Washington and Reynolds. We then see how they communicate as it is clear they do not like one another, then as the film progress they become closer (which is expected). Including some great action scenes such as a very thrilling car chase scene where Reynolds kidnaps and takes Washington with him, realizing they are being chased by folks of the mafia government. The film really hits at the scene where Reynolds takes Washington to the sporting event (about 50 minutes in), and we witness the havoc commencing. It follows by Washington escaping, under the loose and Reynolds being taken by the police. From there on out is where I think the film picks up.

The ending could be seen as a cop out and is fairly predictable, where they could have went another direction, as the rating lowers for myself. However it was understood why it all happened. Safe House is what is advertised.
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I'll take it from here.....
FlashCallahan26 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Tobin Frost is a CIA agent who's turned rogue. When he is pursued by men who want to kill him, he goes to the American Consulate where he knows he will be arrested.

When the CIA learns of this, it's decided to bring him to a safe house in Capetown. Shortly after they arrive, the men who chased Frost storm the safe house and kill everyone there.

Matt Weston, the agent who's tasked with looking after the safe house, is the only one left, so he takes Frost and they go on the run. While on the run, Frost tells Weston that the only way those men found the safe house was that someone on the inside told them about it.

Eventually Frost escapes and Weston is told to report to Langley but just as he's about to, he recalls something that Frost did that helps him figure out where he could be going.

But just as he arrives, the men who are after Frost show up but Weston saves him and they head off. But Weston knows that Frost is holding something back....

Denzel Washington is one of those actors that can open a movie regardless of the content. And here is another example. It's your usual story of corruption in the government, and Washington holds the answer.

It's another great performance from the actor, but Frost is a different kind of character to the ones we are used to seeing.

If you mix Harris from Training day and Creasey from Man on Fire, you comes up with the closest answer to Frost. The character on paper is despicable, but once the film gets going, he's not all bad after all, but still carries an evil streak with him.

Reynolds has never been better than his performance here, and proves he has acting chops as well as the looks. The narrative is good, and the action is very loud and up close, but not as irritating as some are saying.

So all in all, it's nothing special, you can pretty much work out who the bad guy is in the first five minute, but thanks to Washington and Reynolds, an average thriller, becomes thrilling.
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Decent Movie, but a waste of some real Talent
giantpanther10 February 2012
My rating of 5/10 is at once both generous and not. Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington do the best they can but ultimately the director hits the wrong tone and the cinematography is at times distractingly bad.

Here's what the previews led me to believe, Reynolds is young and driven but inexperienced as the keeper of a safe house, Washington is an old professional rogue agent who will offer him advice. None of that advice was ever really shared, I thought a certain bond would be formed between Washington and Reynolds or at least a hesitant mutual respect but none of that took shape.

I kept waiting for that point where one character proves to be more than what we were led to believe early on that they were, but no. Washington and Reynold's characters of Weston and Tobin stay the same throughout the whole movie, Weston is none the wiser because of Tobin and thats all there is to it.

Still there's enough basic action and minimal suspense to keep you entertained during a matinée showing so on that level I can't knock the film. The problem is there were several moments where I was left wondering why not a little more exploration into these characters or the story.

Also while watching the movie I just assumed it was PG-13, I never pay attention to the ratings but none of the violent fight scenes were that particularly violent so I told myself oh it must be because they needed to maintain the PG-13 but no, this movie is an R and yet they still avoided showing brutal fight scenes. All of the violence was so rapidly edited together and shot from such obscure angles that you can barely even tell what is going on.

I give credit to Washington and Reynolds for doing the best they could to overcome weak direction, editing, cinematography, and screen writing.
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Watch if you like mindless shootouts
good-decision3 March 2012
Taking into consideration the quality of Washington's previous movies, this is perhaps one of his worst ever. Endless shootouts with no purpose, flat done-to-death story. I was hugely surprised that this is what he has to say yes to and waste a year's worth of work for! I was tempted to leave 45 minutes later. And when I left when the movie was over, I regretted I didn't leave earlier. Miss it, and save your cash. I would really like to know how in hell this movie got a seven and why!

The movie is a long never-ending scene after scene of shoot outs (and as usual nobody gets hurt), and car chases that are very lame. One after the other, after the other, after the other, after the other. No thrill in it either. I cant bet you that in a few months time when many enough movie goers went to see it, the rating will drop to around 5.
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Nothing new, a dumb actioneer that has to reach an end somehow
vostf2 March 2012
When I first heard about the movie I was expecting more of a "Safe House" suspense, an 'Assault on Precinct 13' kind of single-location tense thriller. Then the trailer gave away it was all out action, but it still looked cleverer than it really is (and I think I know what to look for in those nicely packaged samples).

The only original thing was to have the action unfold in South Africa, still it was nothing more than a gimmick. The only plot point is about CIA not having backup teams available so far down on the overlooked continent, but aside from this the action could easily have been relocated to LA. When there's a furious car chase in a Bourne movie you know it's a different country, but Downtown Cape Town, sunny highways, what's the difference?

Safe House, the title, is still high concept, too bad they just used it as a starting point to yet another overblown actioneer. Characters are flimsy, even more so as they run to give and get lots of blows and run here and there until it's time to kill those who get in the way of a simplified ending.

Lots of dumb violence - I mean violence is not dumb with Jason Bourne, it's realistic, sharp and short - and then cut to a nice cute clean ending. Blah.
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Unoriginal, generic and boring even with the action scenes
KineticSeoul11 February 2012
This is another movie where the trailer basically shows just about everything and is way better than the actual movie itself. After about 30 minutes into this movie, the constant thought that was running through my head was when this movie was going to end. Cause it's dull and boring all the way through even with the gun fights and the chase scenes. Denzel Washington plays Tobin Frost who was this legendary CIA but turned rogue. In the trailer it seemed like he would be a cold and yet slick character who knew exactly what he is doing. But that was just few minutes into the movie and he keeps making this lazy mistakes for a character who is supposed to be this legendary agent. If he at least kept his character most of the way through it would have been a more watchable more to some degree. The theater was packed for this movies release date but none of the audience seemed excited of enjoying there time while watching this dull and generic movie that is predictable all the way through. Some even left in the middle of this lazy movie. Even two good actors couldn't save this movie from being a utter unoriginal boring movie. I give it a 3.4/10 cause I seen worse.

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well done and pointless
trelerke-politics19 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Why does Denzel do these things, ultra violence in service to what? Turns out there are bad people who do government spying, they appear to be, hope you're sitting down, duplicitous, greedy, violent. I know, who would have thunk it? The movie essentially has a bunch of murderers of one CIA stripe killing a bunch of murderers of another CIA stripe, that's pretty much the beginning and end of it. Nothing else at stake, no giant Maguffin, nuclear annihilation, the discovery of the holy grail, whether Lindsey Lohan will ever pull out of her dive, nothing here. And really good actors doing mostly nothing of interest in service to nothing of consequence. No one was seen in a good light here, oops, save the French girlfriend and one simply perfectly shot aerial scene of a car going vertically up the screen through fields, a relatively short shot, but magnificent nonetheless, painterly, in fact. Otherwise, when its done you just had to ask yourself, how did this get funded? What was the decision process for this?
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Capetown tourism
ieatdogsforbreakfast15 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
OK I live in Capetown so I may have a jaundiced view of this movie . First of it is a below average conspiracy movie of no remark . The thing that struck me about it was how the script was somehow manipulated to show various parts of the Cape (or Capetown). Was this actually written in conjunction with cape tourism , It certainly looks that way . Maybee the production company got discounts on filming fees in return for showcasing various parts of the cape .Oh and by the way if you have to have a car chase at least have some kind of continuity reality to it for the viewers who are from the place were you are filming , you cut from Capetown central to nearby highways to suburbs and townships 20 miles from downtown in the same chase , I wont even start on the white elephant world cup football stadium ,Ridiculas , Anotherthing Capetown is still extremely racist and divided by suburb on race lines of old , the idea of a white man living in langa by choice is f*cking laughable So if your not from Capetown its just about watchable but please don't think your getting any sense of this town from the movie
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Denzel Bourne : Twice the shaky cam and very little of the style and wit
MosHr7 February 2012
First thing about watching "Safe House" in the theaters: do not, I repeat DO NOT, sit in the front half of the cinema; I would suggest sitting in the back row unless you want to get nauseated and dizzy. Why? The shaky cam is really bad on this movie. Even in the non-action scenes, the camera is never still and constantly moving. During action scenes the camera all over the place creating headache inducing jerkiness and bobbling that can only be described by comparing it to symptoms of deadly diseases. The constant camera movement in the non-action scenes is also so bad that during each and every conversation in the movie, it's slowly rocking side to side for absolutely no reason, giving sea-sickness.

Add to the shaky cam that half the movie is a close up of a close up. The faces take up most of the screen and go beyond even the field of vision. On top of that, add the way too much frequent cuts. It's a real eyeball and brain buster.

However, if you're one of these people who are immune to shaky cam, the next topic is of course Denzel. Denzel gives his greatest hits: the Denzel-against-the-world Denzel, the Training-Day Denzel and the drama Denzel. Denzel is supposed to be playing a character Tobin Frost, but it's like we are watching Denzel Washington do his thing rather than Tobin Frost.

Safe House borrows heavily from the Bourne movies, not just the shaky cam but the large screened command centers at the Pentagon and the mannerisms of the staff there. Another Bournesque element is the fights between trained agents; however in this movie, they just seem to be of lower quality with slower labored movements and the scenes reduced to a frantic blur. The singular car chase scene despite being the highlight of the action sequences, is also unsatisfying.

The real oddity of the movie is how philosophical it wants to be about lives of CIA "employees". The movie gives us these long sullen monologues on relationships, pasts and futures, innocent victims etc. These musings would probably have some gravity if any of the characters were more than half dimensional and possessed some sort of personality. What we end up in the movie are a bunch of really big talking heads, sprouting lots of hollow dialog and adding to that headache.

Other minor things, the water-boarding scene that the trailer alludes to completely flubbed. It is as exciting as watching someone water their lawn.

Speaking of product placements, "Safe House" has been commandeered as a product placement vehicle for a certain brand of car that only makes boxy SUVs. Each and every car in the movie is of this brand; I mean every government car, every bad guy car, all 3-4 cars jacked along the way is a boxy SUV. This way too silly and distractingly sticks out.

In summary, Safe House would have been a mediocre but watchable movie without the shaky cam. With the shaky cam, it's just a big headache inducing mess. Devout Denzel followers might get something out of it but for most action fans, I would suggest waiting for the DVD version which it is more suited for.
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Denzel and Reynolds keep the bulk of the film fresh, gritty and intense.
punchxi11 April 2019
This is Ryan Reynolds best performance that I've seen since Van Wilder and the wonderful, iconic, legendary Denzel Washington getting screen time and playing the 'badass character' that we love to see him play.
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