Review: Safe House

Safe House

  • Starring: Denzel Washington (Training Day), Ryan Reynolds, (Green Lantern), Brendan Gleeson (The Guard)
  • Directed by: Daniel Espinosa
  • Synopsis: “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 (Reynolds) escapes with him.  Now, the unlikely allies must stay alive long enough to uncover who wants them dead.” (collider)
  • Rated: R for strong violence.
  • Trailer:

“Denzel’s back!…and at least this time he’s not in a train!”

Denzel Washington returns in a role highly reminiscent of the majority of his most recent films. However, Safe House hits the ground running right off the bat with two things going for it: the “Denzel” factor and the “Excitement” factor. These two things are what keep the film very much alive and keep the interest going in an all too predictable/”we’ve seen it before” film.

And, those two things might very well be all that one needs to like this film.

With a great lead in Denzel Washington as rogue agent Tobin Frost, Safe House brings a great cast together that delivers in the majority of their performances. From Brendan Gleeson’s appropriate mentor role to Ryan Reynolds’ acceptable performance as the persistent young CIA agent to several other inclusions, there seemed to be an almost perfect casting for each part. (I would claim one exception to that: that being the misuse of Vera Farmiga in her role. It seemed as if the director saw her character in The Source Code and simply thought, “Hey, that was good. Let’s just have her do almost the exact same character in our movie too, only perhaps maybe a little bit older.” Sorry…it didn’t work so well…and Joan Allen did a better part in that type of role in the Bourne series, by far.)

Denzel, however, does his thing and is nothing short of exceptional. Again, the “Denzel” factor is one of the major wins that keeps this film going. And Reynolds does a fine job opposite Washington. The twists, turns, and surprises can be seen a mile away. Denzel does his thing that he does so well…be him. With a similar character to that of Book of Eli, Man on Fire, etc, Denzel once again has something in his possession that is wanted and thus is painted out to be an evil man who must be stopped at all costs.

What’s your opinion?: Is it time for Denzel to do a different character again like he did when he broke from his norm in Training Day? I would say so. Almost all of his recent movies feature him as a very similar character. But then again, the same could be said about almost everyone in this movie.

Yet, even with Denzel and with some amazing action sequences that keep the adrenaline pumping and the viewer’s eyes glued to the screen, Safe House still fails in several areas. It tries to be its own movie but, instead, ends up being other movies mixed into one. With much of it being that of the Bourne series with the same type of fighting, shocking moments, action, deception, and more, you may find yourself wondering if you are watching a prescreening for Bourne Legacy instead of Safe House. (Treadstone anyone?)

Safe House carries on its predictable and copycat story a little too long and should have been cut short by deleting several rather unnecessary scenes. I attribute that mistake to director Espinosa’s lack of experience with major motion pictures (this being his first widely released film). But, as I stated earlier, most of these little qualms remain somewhat forgiveable due to the high level of the “Denzel” and “Excitement” factors.

…but the forgiveness can only stretch so far.

Espinosa’s dependency upon said “Denzel” and “Excitement” factors to carry this film actually handicaps it. Instead of taking this story to greater heights, Safe House disappoints as it takes the safe route telling a very familiar Bourne-esque story with very little to offer in the areas of originality, imagination, unpredictability…and even plausibility. Good acting by all involved (even Reynolds), but ultimately you’ve seen this conspiracy theory movie before, only perhaps it starred Tom Cruise, or Matt Damon, or Harrison Ford, or someone else like that. It’s just Denzel’s turn. That’s all.

It’s got Denzel, and it’s Exciting! That’s it.

Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!

Score:  2.5 out of 5 stars for Safe House

T, The Focused Filmographer

up next: Review for The Artist


  1. Wow that’s an unexpectedly low score! This looks like your average Denzel movie to me so I will probably give it a rental down the road. Sorry to hear it was disappointing T!


  2. Surprised about your score too – after reading your review thought you’d have maybe given in a 3.5.

    Well, it sounds like something I’d enjoy, hoping to head out to see it this week. Denzel doing what he’s been doing best for a few years… I don’t mind. So far.


    • it just wasn’t deserving of anything higher, it’s Denzel that keeps people interested in it. But I guarantee you, if, say, Laurence Fishburne was starring instead of Denzel, it would not attract half as many people and would more than likely end up on Netflix instead. It’s not a great movie. It’s just that Denzel and the excitement levels make it an entertaining watch.

      so, if I rated movies on their excitement level and allure, I’d give this one a higher rating. true. but, in the realm of great movies it just doesn’t make the cut. I’ll be interested in your thoughts once you watch it! 🙂


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