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Fight club or Safe House? Washington flick is more blood bath than psychological thriller



Genre: , , ,
Starring: , ,
Directed By:
MPAA Rating:
Release Date: February 10, 2012
Length: 115 minutes




Total Score
6.5/ 10



Denzel Washington is terrific.


The film is a blood bath.

Bottom Line

If it weren’t for such a great performance by Denzel Washington, who plays a tough-as-nails rogue CIA agent, ‘Safe House’ would be an average espionage thriller.

Posted February 12, 2012 by

Full Review

If it weren’t for such a great performance by Denzel Washington, who plays a tough-as-nails rogue CIA agent, Safe House would be an average espionage thriller. While inhibited by a few too many elongated action sequences, the film has enough about scandal and subterfuge to make for an entertaining matinee.

The plot centers on Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds), a young CIA agent who would rather be a field operative but is confined to managing a largely uninhabited South African safe house. All that changes, however, when rogue agent Tobin Frost (Washington) is brought in and water-boarded by a group of operatives seeking details of his recent activities. While Tobin has obtained a file that contains information about corrupt security officials in the U.S. and other countries, he refuses to divulge the information. Matt doesn’t know what to make of the torture session, but when a group of rebels attack the safe house, he doesn’t have time to second-guess the agents. Put in charge of Tobin, he sneaks out the back door and hijacks a car, eluding the attackers in a high-speed chase.

At this point, Matt begins to wonder what the hell is going on. It doesn’t help that Tobin, an expert interrogator, gets inside Matt’s head, asking him how rebels knew his whereabouts and hinting there’s a leak in the CIA. Matt calls his boss, David Barlow (Brendan Gleeson), who directs him to pick up a backpack at the soccer stadium that will direct him to another safe house where he should wait for back-up. At the stadium, Tobin eludes Matt and flees to a shantytown where he obtains false papers from an old friend. Rebels follow, and Tobin barely escapes, thanks to the assistance of Matt, who seemingly recaptures him.

Aside from a few plot holes and a few unbelievable scenes, the real trouble with Safe House is that it’s such a blood bath. Washington is terrific as a CIA agent with an uncanny ability to quickly psychoanalyze his opponents and take action and Reynolds is fine as the eager, but unseasoned, agent. But the scenes in which the two go head to head are eclipsed by the overwhelming number of car crashes and shakily filmed fights. And the final shootout isn’t likely to leave anyone satisfied, even if the true bad guys get their due.


Sam is live-music -loving vegetarian communications professional with an entertainment, travel and tourism background. A restless soul, Sam believes in getting out there and doing things because you only go around once but knows she could benefit from a little more sleep. Give her a reason to see a movie, catch a concert or explore a new destination at [email protected].


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