Power house action and masculine fighting, that’s what comes with the package of Safe House. It’s got some guts, not like gross guts, but guts like some punching kicking fights that can be a bit wrenching. The story is a little overshadowed by that action attitude but it’s still OK. I enjoyed the movie, even though it has that extra testosterone thing going on about 99.9% of the time. There is an underlying study of human behavior, but mostly it’s a dude trying to manipulate himself out of a bad situation.
There is the theme of a man so bad he can escape a hard core safe house, a CIA place where bad people get locked up on the way to other places to be locked up. So, this guy, Denzel Washington is the ex-agent who knows everything, does anything, has every skill, and he’s not doing it all for a good cause. The rookie agent is then put in the position of protecting and detaining him without so much as the will to just do it, with no resources. This isn’t a new concept, but for some reason it’s got enough umph to work for me.
I like the seriously hard fights. I don’t normally dig that kind of stuff, but sometimes, when it’s done right I get very involved. The stunts and sounds make it visceral, along with the appropriate sweat and blood here and there. Let’s not forget about the car chases, or just one maybe. Now I can’t remember exactly,but I know there was one good car chase with some bizarre crashing and almost realistic freeway crazy driving. I wasn’t bored, and that’s saying something big!!
I do like the intrigue stories, who’s screwing who politically and how corrupt the upper levels of everything really are. I know it’s a movie, but these things are not that far from the truth in theory. I mean, humans are jerks and the worst of us seem to rise to great powerful positions. The good “little” guy always seems to have to fight his way out of the shit pile left by the machine of governmental game playing. This movie brings so many faces to this kind of game, from the top dogs to middle men and women, to the people on the streets just trying to survive but also wrapped up in the never ending grinding of every move, for good or evil. “Don’t kill innocent people” Washington says to Reynolds at one point, as if there are any truly innocent people through the ranks of these power struggles. I suppose there is a difference between the wide eyed Reynolds character who wants to do the right thing and the spent and hardened Washingtong character who wants to do the right thing but has already made choices that have put him on the side of evil. Good vs. Bad is always at the heart of most drama stories, and this time we see it at it’s most basic form. Government people making evil choices to do bad things while good men/women try to do the right thing but are swallowed up by the hugeness of it all. It’s got substance, Safe House, and the more I think about it the more I think I liked it.
The cast is intense and even Ryan whoever got me on his side, finally. He wasn’t cheeky or goofy, just genuine and sincerely doing a good job up against Mr. Washington. I will always give someone more chances in movies, when I am turned off by their early work I might just come around later when they get their shit together…..this is a perfect example.
The tone of Safe House is kind of dark and very much not about feeling good. It’s brooding with a touch of bullshit here and there, but what manly flick doesn’t have that? I felt satisfied by the end and a bit spent by the power house of action going on pretty much from the start. Safe House is a good night at the movies for sure. Get the popcorn and a beer and maybe watch something like Airplane afterwards to get the grit out of your teeth:)
- U-Control (PIP & Scene Explorer) – As usual with most Universal discs the Picture in Picture mode explores the movie in detail, the Scene Explorer lets you watch B Roll footage of most of the stunts.
- Making Safe House – An 11 minute straightforward making of featurette with lots of interviews with cast and crew.
- Hand To Hand Action – The best feature on the disc takes you through the rehearsals and test footage of the hand to hand combat of Safe House.
- Shooting The Safe House Attack – The Safe House attack is literally a shorter sequence than this featurette but here the stunt team break down the gunplay in detail.
- Building The Rooftop Chase – A four minute look at the Rooftop chase, the actual naming of the featurette is a minor spoiler so I don’t want to go into it here.
- Behind The Action – All aspects of thew action of the movie is discussed here, from the driving to the fighting and the shooting. Action fans will love it.
- Inside The CIA – They used a real life retired CIA agent as technical advisor to the movie, here he gives us a behind the scenes.
- Safe Harbor: Cape Town – lots of location footage from Cape Town, the featurette is not infected with the filter used in the movie and makes the place look beautiful.
- DVD & Digital Copy
Cover Art and Menus: 3/10
I think it will be a while before I come across a cover I like. This one is fair, but boring. I wouldn’t have it as a poster, that’s for sure. That’s the way of the modern non-thinking DVD cover designers. I think they need to take a class in creative thinking and ditch the stupid corporate mandate to just slap some sellable crap on the front and be done with it. The menu is live action, again, kind of boring but it’s serviceable.
Audio & Video: 7/10
Safe House has a distinct visual style very similar to the way Tony Scott has been making his movies look since Man On Fire. Universal’s AVC codec has captured this look perfectly (even though I am personally not a fan of the saturated colors) Blacks are inky, detail is impressive and sharpness is just right. I saw no instances of DNR or ringing throughout the movies entire duration.
The DTS-HD Master Audio track is amazing, one of the stand out moments is at the start of the movie when a flashbang is thrown into the Safe House and your ears literally ring. The car chases are also enhanced by the superb directional sound. Near the start a few dialog lines are lost under the music but that is not carried over to the rest of the film. Like Contraband and The Grey, Universal are on a roll of late when it comes to boombastic soundtracks.
For an evening at home watching an action flick this one is worth the price of a rental. That’s about it for me. I wouldn’t send much cash this direction, not because it’s not a decent movie, just because I think of many others I would rather buy instead or in addition to this one. So, to sum it up, rent it.
Overall Score 7.5/10