SAFE HOUSE Blu-ray Review

     June 12, 2012


Safe House is the kind of movie that you might run across on cable a couple years down the line and forgot that you had ever seen it.  Sure, it’s got a good cast (Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, and Sam Shepard), but it’s so routine and by the numbers that by the end the film it almost completely evaporates from memory.  Our review of the Blu-ray of Safe House follows after the jump.

safe-house-movie-image-denzel-washington-ryan-reynolds-01Reynolds plays Matt Weston, the somewhat youngish recruit chomping at the bit for a meatier job (the film basically says “be careful what you wish for”). He has a girlfriend (Nora Arnezeder), but he can’t let her in on his life’s work, so there’s a tension in their relationship. His life changes when Tobin Frost (Washington) is picked up after he walks into a consulate once a deal goes bad. Frost used to be CIA, but is wanted for trading state secrets. He’s taken to Weston’s safe house, where’s he’s interrogated by Daniel Kiefer (Robert Patrick). This includes waterboarding, so you know that Tobin has to be innocent. Then the people who were trying to kill Tobin before storm the safe house, and from there Matt and Tobin have to escape their hideout. But Tobin isn’t a willing hostage, and so they fight for control.

safe-house-blu-ray-coverFrom there, it should be a cat and mouse game, but everything comes together pretty easily. Farmiga, Gleeson and Shepard play the CIA in America, and a couple of them get on a flight to make sure everything goes right, but one of them is actually a bad person (no spoilers, but someone has to be the real evil). You can usually tell who is the secret mole in films like this because they act nice toward a main character in the beginning and are played by a character actor or actress. But that in and of itself has become a cliché, so there’s no real surprise.

A film with a plot as familiar as this would get its kicks from good stunt sequences, and though everything is competent, and there’s a shot or two that are cool, director Daniel Espinosa handles the material like someone who’s bored. Everything is done with the least possible imagination, right down to the Tony Scott filters. No one involved acting-wise is challenged by the material, so they too go through the paces, and no character moment feels lived in as much as it feels obligatory. There’s no flavor here –perhaps that was supposed to be provided by the South African locations, but nothing is shot so well it doesn’t look like any run down section of the world. You would like the place to have character, but it’s not even good as a vacation photos.

Universal’s Blu-ray comes with a DVD and digital copy. The film is presented in widescreen (2.35:1) and in DTS-HD master audio. The transfer looks stellar, this is a fairly straight port of the film’s original look. The film’s extras kick off with a making of (11 min.), and it’s followed by “Hand-to-Hand Action” (8 min.), which talks about the film’s action scenes. Both are pretty dull. It’s followed by “Shooting the Safe House Attack” (5 min.), “Building the Rooftop chase” (4 min.) and “Behind the Action” (8 min.) which are all about the stunt sequences, while “Inside the CIA” (6 min.) talks to the reality of the film, and “Safe Harbor: Cape Town” (9 min.) gives the film’s location its due. The film also comes with two U-Control PIP windows, one a standard Picture in Picture, the other “Scene Explorer” which allows a look at the storyboards and photos from the film and the B-roll during two scenes.

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