Safe House - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Safe House Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ June 24, 2013
Eh. S'okay.
Super Reviewer
February 28, 2013
A decent action/thriller with a few twists. You know you are always going to get a good performance out of Washington. Maybe it could have done with a bit more action, it did seem to slow down quite a bit in parts. Overall though a good entertaining film if not anything new or groundbreaking.
Super Reviewer
½ September 25, 2012
Bourne is black... I mean back. No wait, this is the wrong review.

All jokes aside, it delivers high octane action enough to please action junkies alike. And with a premise that's somewhat interesting, "Safe House" is (wait for it...) a SAFE BET. LOL, GET IT?

Sorry, now really all jokes aside, you're not going to spot anything new. You're gonna get the shaky cam and the breathless editing; you're gonna get the gritty fisticuff action; you're gonna get the conspiracies and whatnot. So don't come here thinking that this is gonna be something exceeding the likes of the Bourne series. However, it emulates the Bourne series excellently with a surprisingly dynamic relationship between Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) and Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds). So it's an above-average, enjoyable action thriller but a forgettable one.
Super Reviewer
November 22, 2012
While hardly breaking any new ground, Safe House has enough style and intrigue to keep you watching, in spite of knowing exactly how it will turn out (and hoping somehow that the script will suddenly get inventive and surprise me).

It isn't that the action isn't fun and that the chase scenes aren't interesting - for they are... and much better than the gratuitous chase scenes that fill so many an action film; and it isn't for lack of a star to make you take notice; for Denzel is at his smooth, glib best here, carrying the slick smile and easy manner that hides his no-nonsense, mess with me and I'll kill ya core.

And yet... somehow you just know that you've seen it all before... rogue agent bucks the system he used to work for, blah blah - yep, Born again Bourne (I've always wanted to print that!!!).

There is some suspense, especially dealing with Denzel's escape from the first trap, and then the subsequent attack on the safe house, but thereafter the film seems rote - and the only thing keeping you guessing is who controls the "other" force trying to get at Denzel, and is there a double agent within the CIA, and if so, who?

Funny thing though, during much of the action and set ups, I found myself asking "is this plausible?" and wondering if the motivations, or the how's and why's made sense - which I guess means that I was interested in what was going on, but that the film did not capture me to the point where I was just rolling along with the action. To the film's credit, much of what I was wondering did get explained, so there weren't a lot of "fill in the plot hole by convenience". About the only real stumble takes place around the soccer stadium - where many a weirdly garbed fan is mulling about outside the stadium... while the game is going on inside! WTF??? Wouldn't these rabid fans be in their seats inside once the contest starts?

But that blunder aside, we get to view some nice cinematography - lighting, angles, and saturation are all quality. Script wise, Denzel's lines are poetry and there is a nice bit of chicanery used to fill in some of the missing points - having the CIA chief demand intel on certain persons of interest while in the war room... of course the film then overuses it, which is just plain lazy.

In all, not a bad film, just not a really good one... entertaining to a point, and with the Denzel factor making it worth recommending... just wonder how I'd think of this without his splendid performance.
Super Reviewer
½ October 7, 2012
Engaging and exciting. Denzel Washington gives his typical, strong performance...although it is "typical" in that his character really isn't much different than what you've seen before in several other films. Of course, Ryan Reynolds is always a treat to look at for two hours regardless of the film.
Super Reviewer
September 20, 2012
Excellent film both Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds play a awesome part. In light of the recent invasion in to the US Embassy in Libya, this movie is realistic and full of action and suspense. A great movie if you have blue ray or a huge screen TV. 5 stars 8-19-12
Super Reviewer
½ November 14, 2011
Without a doubt, the first thing that sticks out about this movie is that it is basically Tony Scott (may he rest in peace) light.

That's not necessarily a bad thing either, as there are far worse reference points that director Daniel Espinosa and his crew could have made. Taking place and shot on location in Cape Town, South Africa, this is the story of Matt Weston, a young, inexperienced low-level agent for the CIA who works as the house keeper for one of the agency's many safe houses.

One day, legendary ex-operative turned traitor and international criminal Tobin Frost is brought in after over a decade of evasion. He's taken to Weston's safe house, but, after the place is raided by mercenaries, the pair must band together and go one the run to find out who is after them, and why.

Okay, so aside from the Tony Scott influence, the other major notable thing about this film is that it is a rather routine action thriller. There's an impressive cast that got assembled for this, and they make the best of what they're given to work with, but this really isn't all that remarkable of a movie.

However, it is quite entertaining, the camera work and locations are great, there's plenty of action, and there are two fight scenes in particular that absolutely knock it out of the park in terms of being stunning sequences. They're not quite to the level of what Soderbergh did with Haywire, but they are certainly close to that territory.

Washington really doesn't break new ground as Frost, but he's proven to be quite solid at this sort of thing. Plus, it shows his dedication since he allowed himself to actually be water boarded for the role, if only for just a handful of seconds per take. Reynolds likewise was decently cast even if this isn't one of his best movies. He was decently convincing, and it was fun seeing him go toe to toe with Denzel.

As for the supporting players, we get appearances of varying lengths from Brendan Gleeson, Vera Farmiga, Sam Shepherd, and Ruben Blades among others. They all do okay, but I really hoped they all could have been given some meatier stuff to work with.

All in all, I probably shouldn't rate this movie this high, but I can't help it. It delivers the thrills as expected, it's entertaining, and, like I said, it has two fights scenes in particular that are just incredible.
Super Reviewer
½ September 15, 2012
Reynolds and Washington were well together,with the fast paced action pack...
Super Reviewer
September 1, 2012
Daniel Espinosa's crime thriller, Safe House, only goes so far.The film's first act is where the story thrives. The intrigue factor and character setup is rock solid; however, as the plot progresses, the excitement and mystery slowly fizzle away, leaving a final act that is partially dry when compared to the beginning.The action is of decent quality and the violence is pretty mild for a picture with a R rating. There are some spurts here and there worth noting, but all in all nothing memorable.Denzel Washington delivers another character that is enjoyable to watch; brimming with confidence that overpowers Ryan Reynolds or anyone else in the picture. Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, and Sam Shepard round out an underused cast.Safe House does run its course for a 110 minutes and ends up as a good watch, just not a great one.
Super Reviewer
July 15, 2012
If 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 could almost be a sequel to 'Man on Fire' its so similar in terms of plot development, action sequences, locations and the character Washington plays. Well OK its not exactly identical but you can see what I mean.

So we swap the hot humid sweaty conditions of Mexico for the dry heat conditions of South Africa. Washington is an ex-CIA agent turned criminal who gets procession of a disc containing lots of dirty secrets about the CIA and other agencies. Its up to the inexperienced Reynolds to protect him, even though he doesn't really want to.

The whole film plays out as you would expect but unfortunately like too many other films you may have seen. What you get throughout is directed and filmed with outstanding quality and high production values but its not really very original.  The action is top notch and certainly so extremely realistic you can taste the tension. A lot of deafening gunfire, fist fights that make you wince, some brutal car chases and crashes and all filmed within highly atmospheric real locations or sets.

So the problem is its just by the numbers and you know its all gonna end in double cross and just know it!. Without giving the game away there will be a lot of what I just said, but surely you all know that, its common practice in films like this hehe. The plot is simply your basic structured thriller which  includes all the basic ingredients that are usually required.
Using some top actors for the main roles of course helps but it doesn't hide its short falls I'm afraid. I'm pretty sure most people will probably deduce what Gleeson is up to and the obvious fact that the top ranking suits in the story are most probably hiding something. Always the same with these high rankings US officials in thriller films.

Ruben Blades has probably the most common role in a film like this, he is an old time friend who Washington's character retreats to in a time of need. There is a small sequence where they reminisce, then they get down to business as 'Frost' requires his help one last time, then of course the bad guys find them in their 'off the beaten track' location and Blades' character is killed. Just as quickly as he is introduced he is killed off, merely a stop gap for the main character to get some vital last minute help and refuel as it were.

If you wanna see some excellent action set pieces then you can't go wrong here. Alas that is all your gonna get really as the plot is chock full of all the regular thriller/espionage cliches that we have all seen before. Its not a bad film, its very very well made, its just old hat. It also seems to try and morph into a 'Bourne' type concept right at the very very end, almost hinting at a sequel which might take Reynolds character into familiar territory.
Super Reviewer
July 3, 2012
Tobin Frost: You practice anything a long time, you get good at it. You tell a hundred lies a day, is sounds like the truth. Everyone betrays everyone. 

"No One Is Safe"

Safe House was sort of a disappointment for me. I liked it to an extent, but with a cast like this, and based on the trailer; I expected a lot more. Vera Farmiga and Brendan Gleeson are totally wasted here. Reynolds and Washington are good, but not enough to elevate the movie beyond anything other than average. The movie moves fast and it's got some cool action sequences, but it just didn't do that something extra to make itself something truly special.

This is a movie we've seen many, many times before. They've got someone in custody and now they have to run around with him, without letting him die or get away. It's always a fun story, but the film is too lazy. It never tries to be anything other than average, which is sort of frustrating because this had the potential to be great. Or at least better than it was.

Should you watch it? It really doesn't matter. If you watch it, you'll have decent entertainment. If you don't, you aren't missing anything. Movies like Safe House are starting to get somewhat tiresome and I really wanted to like this, but the way everything unfolds is just too.... standard to warrant anything above calling it merely adequate. There are much better thrillers out there. In fact there are hundreds of better thrillers out there.
Super Reviewer
January 12, 2011
Cast: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard, Rubén Blades, Joel Kinnaman, Nora Arnezeder, Robert Patrick, Liam Cunningham, Tanit Phoenix, Jake McLaughlin, Fares Fares

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Summary: When men bent on eliminating dangerous criminal Tobin Frost attack the safe house where the CIA has squirreled him away, young operative Matt Weston must find a way to get Frost out alive and relocate him to another, securer location.

My Thoughts: "Dirty politics is the focus of the story with the C.I.A. being in the spotlight. I went back and forth with thinking Frost was a bad guy to he was a good guy. Obviously I won't spoil it. Reynolds and Washington is a great match. I enjoy both actors and thought they brought a great deal of talent to a film that would have suffered without their ability to act their asses off. The story is basically Weston chasing Frost throughout the film. Even though it sounds boring, it's not. There was quite a bit of action making this film worth watching, besides the acting of course. Not a dull moment. Great action thriller if you get the chance to watch it."
Super Reviewer
½ November 6, 2011
In terms action, spy thrillers, Safe House achieves what it sets out to do. This is a non-stop thrill ride from start to finish, one that is supported by a terrific cast. The film may be nothing really new but the performances here make the film much more compelling, and you are hooked from the opening shot right to the end credits. What makes this film great is the terrific talent assembled. The cast here save this film and their performances stand out, and make a somewhat flawed film more enjoyable because of it. At times, you forget that Safe House relies on the same old formula that so many other action thrillers have relied on. On the other hand, I enjoyed the thrill a minute action and suspense and Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds had some great on-screen chemistry. If you're looking for a great action flick, Safe House is the one to check out. The film may have a simple plot, but like I said, the performances of the cast make this a must see film. Director Daniel Espinosa successfully creates a memorable action using old school genre elements. Even if the film a bit of originality, it's still one thrilling ride from start to finish. I very much enjoyed the film, and Denzel Washington proves once again that he is able to turn something ordinary to something very good with his acting ability. Safe House delivers a good, entertaining two hours, even if it's not that original, it's still a very film to watch. This film still has plenty of action to spare and you won't be disappointed with this cast. A fun, thrilling action packed ride, Safe House will satisfy action fans looking for a mindless evening of thrills.
Super Reviewer
February 10, 2012
Despite a great cast and decent performances, Safe House is just a generic spy thriller with nothing new to say and without the pure excitement and thrills of a good Bond or Bourne film. It's too long and wordy at times, especially considering how simplistic the movie actually is. The first 20 of so minutes are actually pretty good and on track with the advertising campaign, but after that the movie transforms into a Bourne/Bond wannabe and betrays a good concept in favor of familiarity. It has a few moments that are fun to watch, but nothing in this movie made me think of anything other than how much it was like a mediocre Bond film. The talent is wasted and I felt like it could have been better.
Super Reviewer
June 17, 2012
Safe House represents a high pedigree of action talent, but unfortunately plays it far too safe in its execution. Ryan Reynolds plays a CIA agent, though in actual fact he spends most of his time just waiting for a phone to ring as he is in charge of a safe house. After twelve months of nothing, one of the CIA's most wanted men, a turn-coat agent played by Denzel Washington, is brought to the house. The place soon erupts in gunfire, and Reynolds must protect Washington but feels unable to trust his own team. The film craves to be Bourne, with rooftop running chases, expert car chases, gritty cinematography and well executed but scrappy fights. In fact the fights here are excellent, as they demonstrate some good choreography, but at the same time incorporate some rough edges, for example ear twisting and rubbing glass in peoples faces. It really does make it feel as though these guys are trained, but the fights are real. The car chases are also highly exciting, with practical effects really adding to the carnage. Reynolds is excellent as Matt Weston. He plays a man bored of his current position but scared when a chance to prove himself arises. He feels like an actual human, being brave and kicking arse, but also fearing for his life. Washington plays his usual role, and almost comes across as a MacGuffin. Still, Washington putting in no effort is better than some actors on their best days. The film's real flaw is being too similar to previous efforts and having a pointless "mole" plot. We are only introduced to two characters it could feasibly be, all the other name actors pop in for a cameo before being killed off. So you have a 50/50 guess at who it is, and even that's pretty obvious to work out. A great film for Reynolds, and some brilliant touches throughout. Could be a favourite with fans of the genre.
Super Reviewer
½ June 16, 2012
I'm a big fan of Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington, so I had high hopes for this movie. Well, I'm glad I had a free copy of it on DVD, instead of paying for it. It's decent, but something about it just didn't work for me. Denze, is Tobin Frost, a renegade from the CIA who shows up in South Africa after spending a year off the grid. He's taken to a safe house for questioning, when their attacked by mercenaries. Frost is all but a dead man, when Reynolds(Matt Weston) helps him escape, and keep him alive until he can turn him over to the CIA. From there Frost escapes, and Weston is on his trail. It has good action, and is very well shot. But something about it just doesn't work for me. Maybe it's how the story has been done before, or maybe it's that Reynolds just isn't right for the role. He does good, but seems out of place. I dunno what it is, I usually like these types of movies, but this is one I just shrug and go "meh" at. I'm sure there are a lot of people who love it, and I'm in the minority(well it did get 54 percent on rotten tomatoes, so maybe I'm not), but I've seen a lot better. Judge for yourself, but you've been warned.
Super Reviewer
½ June 2, 2012
No One Is Safe

Very good 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. 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. Go see it!

Tobin Frost is a CIA agent who's believed to have turned rogue, in Capetown, South Africa. 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, where they will interrogate him. 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.
Super Reviewer
May 25, 2012
2 normally decent actors converge in 2 roles that clearly don't suit them at all. The film is a very poor CIA conspiracy thriller, that just isn't very thrilling. The best thing about it where some very nice views of Cape Town. The film is sh*t!
Super Reviewer
½ February 17, 2012
Safe House is a mixed bag. The film takes place in Cape Town, South Africa and the production was actually shot there. That's favorable. It boasts a solid cast. Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds star, but it also showcases supporting players that include Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard, Rubén Blades and Robert Patrick. It's a pity none of them were given a character they could really sink their acting chops into. These are stock characters in stock situations. I greeted the whole affair with a casual indifference. While it played out I admit I was mildly entertained. The actors kept giving me hope that something exciting would happen or develop. But when the story was finished, the plot revealed itself to be thoroughly generic. There are several scenes in which a gun goes off when you're not expecting it to happen. The sound was so loud I jumped out of my seat at least twice because it sounded like a gun went off in the theater. Other than that, I can barely remember anything about this film.
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