What You Need To Know:
SAFE HOUSE is absorbing, but not great. It’s filled with plenty of tense, effective action. The worst violence takes place off-camera and in the imagination of viewers, but SAFE HOUSE still has plenty of very strong action violence. There’s also some strong foul language and implied pre-marital sex. SAFE HOUSE does have some moral, patriotic, and redemptive elements of sacrifice, but extreme caution is advised.
(Pa, BB, PP, C, RoRo, LL, VVV, S, N, A, MM) Light mixed pagan worldview with some strong and patriotic elements and redemptive content extolling offering up one’s life for the greater good, but with some strong Romantic elements; 13 or 14 obscenities (including one or two “f” words) but no profanities; very strong and strong action violence includes numerous fistfights, kickings, beatings, stabbings, point blank shootings; male lead is seen shirtless in a shower and while getting out of bed next to his girlfriend, whom he’s verbally described as living in cohabitation; upper male nudity; brief casual alcohol use in a couple scenes; no smoking or drugs; and lying, double-crossings, metaphorical back-stabbings.
SAFE HOUSE is a spy movie with two dynamic male leads in Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington. Though it has some Romantic elements, this gives way to strongly moral content by the end. The alleged villain turns out to be a man who wants to root out corruption in the CIA and help America do the right thing in its surveillance operations.
Tobin Frost (Washington) is a former master CIA agent. He’s apparently gone rogue for the past decade, selling secrets to enemy nations. He opens the movie running for his life in Cape Town, South Africa. He’s being chased by teams of assassins because it turns out he has a top secret list of terrorist spies in the CIA that has come into his possession. He turns himself into the US consulate, assuming he’s safe. However, the officials there drag him blindfolded to a “safe house” run by Matt Weston (Reynolds), a bored field operative. Matt quickly realizes his fellow CIA men are going to torture Frost for information.
While the men waterboard Frost, a team of rogue assassins breaks into the safe house and kills everyone except Weston and Frost. The two go on the run to another safe house. The rest of the movie concerns the relationship that builds between them as they figure out if they can trust each other. This is accompanied by the battle they have with the US government and apparent rogue forces out to kill them before the US can help them escape the country.
SAFE HOUSE is absorbing, but not great. It’s filled with plenty of tense and effective action. The movie is also handled with some class and restraint at the hands of director Daniel Espinosa, who makes his American directing debut. For example, the worst killings take place off-camera and in our imaginations. There is only brief use of foul language, and the characters engage in several discussions of right and wrong in the spy or killing business. The visual look of SAFE HOUSE is also unique among recent thrillers, with lots of jump cuts and flashy moves that add expertly to the paranoid tension.
The combination of heavy-duty action and positive moral philosophizing leads to elements of sacrifice for the greater good. The movie’s themes are also relatively patriotic and Pro-American. This will make “Safe House” highly attractive to mature media-wise viewers who like action movies, but watch out for some strong foul language and lots of very strong action violence. There’s also an implied lewd relationship between one main character and his live-in girlfriend. So, extreme caution is warranted for SAFE HOUSE.