Metascore
52

Mixed or average reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 36
  2. Negative: 2 out of 36
  1. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Feb 10, 2012
    88
    The action is contained within a coherent dramatic structure and the puzzle-box paranoia of spy-agency protocol.
  2. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Feb 9, 2012
    78
    Director Espinosa stages the endless action with a tremendous flair that recalls John Woo's grittier moments, and cinematographer Oliver Wood, who shot Woo's finest Hollywood moment, "Face/Off," gives the whole violent show a downright brackish look that borders on the sublime.
  3. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Feb 10, 2012
    75
    A gritty spy thriller directed by relative newcomer Daniel Espinosa, and a film that -- despite the occasional misstep -- ends up being a taut, suspense-filled ride.
  4. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Feb 9, 2012
    75
    Safe House rockets along, taking a familiar formula and making it work - hard.
  5. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Feb 9, 2012
    70
    Though Safe House may be too violent and nihilistic for everyone's taste, it does have several crackerjack action sequences.
  6. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Feb 9, 2012
    70
    Essentially and very effectively a rollicking smash-and-crash chase movie that happens to be surprisingly well acted.
  7. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Feb 13, 2012
    67
    Movies don't come any brawnier than Safe House, and all that chaotic mayhem eventually beats the plot to a pulp.
  8. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Feb 8, 2012
    67
    Compared with a superior potboiler like "Salt," which messed with your brain in entertainingly far-fetched ways, Safe House is action-movie porridge gussied up into a less-clever-than-it-seems mystery.
  9. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Feb 9, 2012
    63
    Safe House has two powerful performances at its core, a hectic plot, a huge body count and a mild sense of déjà vu amid the pulse-quickening tension.
  10. Reviewed by: Glenn Heath Jr.
    Feb 9, 2012
    63
    It'd be unwise to dismiss Safe House as merely a clone of Tony Scott's manically inclined vision.
  11. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Feb 9, 2012
    63
    Director Espinosa shoots virtually everything in tight but wobbly close-up, and the human and vehicular combat often brakes right at the edge of visual incoherence. Just as often the brakes give out completely.
  12. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    Feb 20, 2012
    60
    Tolerably exciting spycraft, but stuck with a see-through plot. Washington and Reynolds are watchable, but not exactly stretched by these roles.
  13. Reviewed by: Kate Erbland
    Feb 9, 2012
    60
    Safe House isn't the most original of plots - it feels like a loose amalgamation of ten other spy flicks - but director Espinosa infuses his production with some bold choices, both in terms of technics and twists.
  14. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Feb 9, 2012
    60
    It's a decent February movie that smartly extends Washington's God-on-the-run character.
  15. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Feb 8, 2012
    60
    Too often Washington is made to simply sit and observe -- which is not a fatal mistake because he is such a good actor that even then he's worth watching. Worse, though, at times he's gone altogether. That's not the only flaw in the fairly straightforward thriller, but it's the biggest.
  16. Reviewed by: Karina Longworth
    Feb 8, 2012
    60
    [A] scattered but not totally disagreeable CIA conspiracy thriller.
  17. Reviewed by: M. E. Russell
    Feb 9, 2012
    58
    There are several things to enjoy here. The use of motel service-industry code words by the safe-house staff is dryly funny.
  18. Reviewed by: Nathan Rabin
    Feb 8, 2012
    58
    Safe House does altogether too good a job establishing Washington as a seemingly unbeatable adversary: He brings so much gravity to his role that Reynolds seems hopelessly overmatched.
  19. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Feb 27, 2012
    50
    Moderately enjoyable, in its exhausting way. [5 March 2012, p. 87]
  20. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Feb 10, 2012
    50
    Safe House may strike you as a brilliant movie, provided you've seen fewer than, say, 10 spy thrillers.
  21. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Feb 10, 2012
    50
    Worse, Safe House asks us to believe that Ryan Reynolds can outclass Denzel Washington in the art of being a hard-ass. Not on this planet, baby.
  22. 50
    A movie with a double-crossing intelligence plot that's so generic it's an irritating intrusion in a lively chase through the streets and shantytowns of Cape Town, South Africa.
  23. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    Feb 9, 2012
    50
    Safe House is a sturdy enough thriller, but one that consistently defaults to the less interesting of its two lead characters.
  24. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    Feb 9, 2012
    50
    Swedish director Daniel Espinosa isn't as adept at chase scenes as "Bourne" director Paul Greengrass: We sometimes lose track of who's supposed to be where and which direction the bullets are flying.
  25. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Feb 9, 2012
    50
    I'm not getting the most of his (Washington) charisma or enough of that million-dollar dental work. I'm not getting the joy, and I miss that.
  26. Reviewed by: Ben Sachs
    Feb 9, 2012
    50
    Espinosa never conveys any sort of perspective on the material, as Scott does through his obsessive attention to production detail; the stylization feels empty, distracting from whatever simple pleasures the routine plot (involving double agents and stolen microchips) might have delivered.
  27. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Feb 9, 2012
    50
    Crash. Kick. Stab. Punch. Talk (briefly). Smash. Chase. Screech. Shoot. Mumble. That's the wearying pattern of Safe House. Had "think" been an action verb, the movie might have risen above the knee-jerk excitement of the second-tier, "Bourne"-style spy thriller. But it never does.
  28. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Feb 8, 2012
    50
    The pacing is uneven, the frenetic action is rarely suspenseful, the dialogue is neither witty nor intelligent, and the anticlimactic endgame drags out to an improbable conclusion.
  29. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Feb 8, 2012
    50
    Terse and understated, this is a spy vs. spy tale designed to minimize talk and maximize action, not at all a bad thing in movies but over-worked to near-exhaustion here.
  30. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Feb 8, 2012
    50
    In contrast with the fragmented kineticism of Paul Greengrass' "Bourne" movies, there's no existential dimension to the shattered-glass aesthetic here; it's just raw, chaotic action, inelegantly shot and staged but no less unnerving for it.
  31. Reviewed by: Ian Buckwalter
    Feb 15, 2012
    40
    It was only a matter of time before someone made a Tony Scott movie without Tony Scott.
  32. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Feb 9, 2012
    40
    Good actors like Vera Farmiga and Brendan Gleeson show up to bust balls and bark expository dialogue with check-in-the-bank-yet? proficiency. Add in a couple of dully pro forma narrative twists to keep you awake in between shots of distractingly exotic South African scenery, and you've got a first-quarter Hollywood release par excellence. Meaning not.
  33. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Feb 9, 2012
    40
    Safe House is a twisted claw of a movie, a picture so visually ugly that, to borrow a line from Moms Mabley, it hurt my feelings.
  34. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Feb 9, 2012
    40
    Safe House devolves into unexciting action scenes that feel left over from the "Bourne" flicks and are peopled with cloak-and-dagger stereotypes.
  35. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Feb 14, 2012
    25
    All of which makes me sad about Denzel Washington's disillusioning participation. I forgive him if the money was irresistible enough to pay off a mortgage or put his kids through Harvard, but Safe House is total junk, and he is one of the producers.
  36. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Feb 9, 2012
    25
    Safe House is an idea for a movie. It's a few blustery gestures in the direction of a story, with five good actors doing their best, trying to hold up the barest frame of an idea, while investing the surrounding emptiness with all the truth they can muster.
User Score
6.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 224 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 48 out of 72
  2. Negative: 6 out of 72
  1. Feb 12, 2012
    9
    The film starts out fast and rarely lets up. I found myself rooting for Reynolds the entire movie and against Washington, of course until the end. Both actors played their roles phenomenally. Full Review »
  2. Feb 11, 2012
    8
    Is it a great film? No. Does Denzel once again prove he is one of the most amazing actor's of his generation? Yes. Ryan Reynold's is passable, but it really is Denzel's film and he is able to turn a good script into a very good one. Worth seeing alone for Denzel's performance. Loads of action, lots of fun. Full Review »
  3. Feb 13, 2012
    2
    Yuck film......I mean the acting is good and the action free flowing but the plot is completely devoid of any originality. I love an action flick as much as the next bloke but it tried to be too smart and failed and therefore failed as a film......Dont waste your cash.
    Oh and Brendan Gleeson is better than this even if Denzel isn't
    Full Review »