The old adage “trust no one” is dramatically reinforced in the adrenaline-pumping thriller Safe House. Government-run safe houses are supposedly secure areas where people of interest can be kept in quarantine for purposes of questioning or until safe transport can be arranged. Ryan Reynolds is a “housekeeper” stationed at a CIA safe house in Capetown, South Africa. His daily regimen consists of total isolation and staring at the walls. One night, however, covert operatives arrive with a high-profile renegade agent to be interrogated. Shortly after his arrival, all hell breaks loose and pretty much stays on the loose until the end of the movie. Denzel Washington stars as the rogue agent carrying some extremely volatile and valuable information.
The HD picture has a deeply saturated color scheme, and the contrasts between the shadowy blacks and lighted areas are stark and richly detailed. There’s some pixilated grain, but the frenetic camera work and editing keep things in such a constant state of motion that it’s scarcely noticeable. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 will hit your speakers hard like you want them to, but there’s a significant discrepancy between the center-channel dialogue track and the surround speakers and subwoofer. It’s like five schoolyard bullies ganging up on the helpless weaker kid and smacking him around until he coughs up the milk money. See, in movies there’s this thing called dialogue in which the actors have to speak to each other. It’s chiefly used to advance the plot and give the viewer pertinent information concerning the characters and the general narrative thrust of the story. But when these actors are barely speaking above a whisper for dramatic effect and you have to crank up the volume to an abnormal level just so they can be heard, it’ll make you jump out of your effing skin when the gunplay and chaos suddenly kick in. Keep the remote handy—you may need it. Other than that, the audio’s an absolute peach.
Extras include several short behind- the-scenes featurettes detailing the film’s intricate production and deconstructions of certain action sequences, all presented in HD. Bonus content can be viewed through the pocket BLU second-screen application that runs concurrently with the film, and there’s the My Scenes bookmarking feature. The D-Box Motion Code is also offered, and this film is definitely one that merits it. There’s also a bonus DVD copy and a Digital Copy through UltraViolet.
Studio: Universal, 2012
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Length: 115 mins.
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Starring: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Brendan Gleeson