Now Playing: Familiar ‘Safe House’ Excels with Great Action and Strong Leads

If ‘Journey 2’ is the recommended mindless family flick this week, ‘Safe House’ is the recommended mindless adult flick of the week. Filled with intense, almost non-stop action, it will at least keep you entertained.

Over nine years ago, CIA agent Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) went off the grid. The higher-ups are clueless as to what he’s been doing since then, but he appears to have gone rogue, working with officials from other international spy organizations. The movie opens with Tobin getting his hands on a mysterious computer file, but the second it’s in his possession, assassins come out of the woodwork to take him down. After a wild chase around Cape Town, South Africa, his only chance of survival is to duck into the American consulate, where he’s immediately detained.

Since the next window for extracting Tobin isn’t for another 18 hours, he’s sent to a local safe house that very rarely holds any guests. Running the safe house in solitude is Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds). Over the 12 months that he’s been stationed there, he hasn’t had one ounce of work, but when Tobin is brought in, Matt is about to see more action than every other agent out there. Shortly after Tobin arrives, the safe house is raided by mercenaries and Matt is forced on the run with his prisoner by his side.

As the two try to stay off the grid, their whereabouts keep getting discovered by the mercs, which tips Matt off to a mole in the CIA. The dichotomy that ensues isn’t all that different than ‘3:10 to Yuma‘ – a good guy must bring a bad guy in despite terrible odds. The bad guy doesn’t seem completely bad and they end up having to work together for survival.

The identity of the mole is fairly predictable, but the road getting there is a whole lot of fun. The oddest thing about ‘Safe House’ is its R-rating. There’s literally one use of profanity, no sex or nudity, and the gritty violence takes place off-screen. Without a doubt, the intention of the director and studio was to make a PG-13 action-packed spy thriller. Why it was assigned an R-rating is beyond me.

Rating: ★★★½☆


  1. I thought the movie was just OK. Although I will say I never want to see another Daniel Espinosa movie again. I thought I was watching Paul Greengrass mixed with Tony Scott. I’m so sick of the shaky-cam. This movie is filled with ‘Cloverfield’-type shaky-cam, even during scenes where people are just sitting around the room talking. So freaking annoying. Hold the damn camera still. There’s no reason it should be bobbing all over the place.

    If you can’t see what’s going on, then why does anything matter in the movie at all?

    About the rating, I thought the violence in it was strong enough for an R rated movie for sure. And there were quite a few F words if I’m not mistaken.

    • Including me, I know two other people that only counted one F-bomb in the whole thing. Mr. Painter says the song over the closing credits drops it at least one more time, so maybe that’s it. Who knows. I didn’t find it any more violent than a ‘Bourne’ movie.

  2. JM

    Denzel Washington tends to sell better with an R rating than a PG-13.

    Maybe the studio forced the director into an R rated cut during focus testing once they realized it didn’t have wide appeal outside of DW’s base.

    Plus the MPAA is fucked up. ‘The Matrix’ was R from one kick to the head.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *