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Safe House

7/10
Mystery . Crime . Thriller . Action
 

Denzel 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 (Ryan Reynolds) escapes with him. Now, the unlikely allies must stay alive long enough to uncover who wants them dead.

 
Actors: Jenna Dover , Fares Fares , Liam Cunningham , Nora Arnezeder , Sam Shepard , Brendan Gleeson , Joel Kinnaman , Vera Farmiga , Ryan Reynolds , Denzel Washington
Directors: Daniel Espinosa
Country: USA , SOUTH AFRICA , JAPAN
Release: 2012-02-10
More Info:
  • Joe Williams

    The action is contained within a coherent dramatic structure and the puzzle-box paranoia of spy-agency protocol.

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch Full Review
  • Marc Savlov

    Director Espinosa stages the endless action with a tremendous flair that recalls John Woo's grittier moments, and cinematographer Oliver Wood, who shot Woo's finest Hollywood moment, "Face/Off," gives the whole violent show a downright brackish look that borders on the sublime.

    Austin Chronicle Full Review
  • Mike Scott

    A gritty spy thriller directed by relative newcomer Daniel Espinosa, and a film that -- despite the occasional misstep -- ends up being a taut, suspense-filled ride.

    New Orleans Times-Picayune Full Review
  • Steven Rea

    Safe House rockets along, taking a familiar formula and making it work - hard.

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • Kenneth Turan

    Though Safe House may be too violent and nihilistic for everyone's taste, it does have several crackerjack action sequences.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Manohla Dargis

    Essentially and very effectively a rollicking smash-and-crash chase movie that happens to be surprisingly well acted.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Steve Persall

    Movies don't come any brawnier than Safe House, and all that chaotic mayhem eventually beats the plot to a pulp.

    Tampa Bay Times Full Review
  • Owen Gleiberman

    Compared with a superior potboiler like "Salt," which messed with your brain in entertainingly far-fetched ways, Safe House is action-movie porridge gussied up into a less-clever-than-it-seems mystery.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Claudia Puig

    Safe House has two powerful performances at its core, a hectic plot, a huge body count and a mild sense of déjà vu amid the pulse-quickening tension.

    USA Today Full Review
  • Glenn Heath Jr.

    It'd be unwise to dismiss Safe House as merely a clone of Tony Scott's manically inclined vision.

    Slant Magazine Full Review
  • Michael Phillips

    Director Espinosa shoots virtually everything in tight but wobbly close-up, and the human and vehicular combat often brakes right at the edge of visual incoherence. Just as often the brakes give out completely.

    Chicago Tribune Full Review
  • Kim Newman

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

    Empire Full Review
  • Kate Erbland

    Safe House isn't the most original of plots - it feels like a loose amalgamation of ten other spy flicks - but director Espinosa infuses his production with some bold choices, both in terms of technics and twists.

    Boxoffice Magazine Full Review
  • Richard Corliss

    It's a decent February movie that smartly extends Washington's God-on-the-run character.

    Time Full Review
  • Bill Goodykoontz

    Too often Washington is made to simply sit and observe -- which is not a fatal mistake because he is such a good actor that even then he's worth watching. Worse, though, at times he's gone altogether. That's not the only flaw in the fairly straightforward thriller, but it's the biggest.

    Arizona Republic Full Review
  • Karina Longworth

    [A] scattered but not totally disagreeable CIA conspiracy thriller.

    Village Voice Full Review
  • M. E. Russell

    There are several things to enjoy here. The use of motel service-industry code words by the safe-house staff is dryly funny.

    Portland Oregonian Full Review
  • Nathan Rabin

    Safe House does altogether too good a job establishing Washington as a seemingly unbeatable adversary: He brings so much gravity to his role that Reynolds seems hopelessly overmatched.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Kyle Smith

    Safe House may strike you as a brilliant movie, provided you've seen fewer than, say, 10 spy thrillers.

    New York Post Full Review
  • Peter Travers

    Worse, Safe House asks us to believe that Ryan Reynolds can outclass Denzel Washington in the art of being a hard-ass. Not on this planet, baby.

    Rolling Stone Full Review
  • Liam Lacey

    A movie with a double-crossing intelligence plot that's so generic it's an irritating intrusion in a lively chase through the streets and shantytowns of Cape Town, South Africa.

    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Full Review
  • John Anderson

    Safe House is a sturdy enough thriller, but one that consistently defaults to the less interesting of its two lead characters.

    Wall Street Journal Full Review
  • John DeFore

    Swedish director Daniel Espinosa isn't as adept at chase scenes as "Bourne" director Paul Greengrass: We sometimes lose track of who's supposed to be where and which direction the bullets are flying.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Wesley Morris

    I'm not getting the most of his (Washington) charisma or enough of that million-dollar dental work. I'm not getting the joy, and I miss that.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Ben Sachs

    Espinosa never conveys any sort of perspective on the material, as Scott does through his obsessive attention to production detail; the stylization feels empty, distracting from whatever simple pleasures the routine plot (involving double agents and stolen microchips) might have delivered.

    Chicago Reader Full Review
  • Lawrence Toppman

    Crash. Kick. Stab. Punch. Talk (briefly). Smash. Chase. Screech. Shoot. Mumble. That's the wearying pattern of Safe House. Had "think" been an action verb, the movie might have risen above the knee-jerk excitement of the second-tier, "Bourne"-style spy thriller. But it never does.

    Charlotte Observer Full Review
  • James Berardinelli

    The pacing is uneven, the frenetic action is rarely suspenseful, the dialogue is neither witty nor intelligent, and the anticlimactic endgame drags out to an improbable conclusion.

    ReelViews Full Review
  • Todd McCarthy

    Terse and understated, this is a spy vs. spy tale designed to minimize talk and maximize action, not at all a bad thing in movies but over-worked to near-exhaustion here.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Justin Chang

    In contrast with the fragmented kineticism of Paul Greengrass' "Bourne" movies, there's no existential dimension to the shattered-glass aesthetic here; it's just raw, chaotic action, inelegantly shot and staged but no less unnerving for it.

    Variety Full Review
  • Ian Buckwalter

    It was only a matter of time before someone made a Tony Scott movie without Tony Scott.

    NPR Full Review
  • Keith Uhlich

    Good actors like Vera Farmiga and Brendan Gleeson show up to bust balls and bark expository dialogue with check-in-the-bank-yet? proficiency. Add in a couple of dully pro forma narrative twists to keep you awake in between shots of distractingly exotic South African scenery, and you've got a first-quarter Hollywood release par excellence. Meaning not.

    Time Out New York Full Review
  • Stephanie Zacharek

    Safe House is a twisted claw of a movie, a picture so visually ugly that, to borrow a line from Moms Mabley, it hurt my feelings.

    Movieline Full Review
  • Joe Neumaier

    Safe House devolves into unexciting action scenes that feel left over from the "Bourne" flicks and are peopled with cloak-and-dagger stereotypes.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • Rex Reed

    All of which makes me sad about Denzel Washington's disillusioning participation. I forgive him if the money was irresistible enough to pay off a mortgage or put his kids through Harvard, but Safe House is total junk, and he is one of the producers.

    New York Observer Full Review
  • Mick LaSalle

    Safe House is an idea for a movie. It's a few blustery gestures in the direction of a story, with five good actors doing their best, trying to hold up the barest frame of an idea, while investing the surrounding emptiness with all the truth they can muster.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • David Denby

    Moderately enjoyable, in its exhausting way. [5 March 2012, p. 87]

    The New Yorker Full Review
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