The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Universal - 2011
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 115 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Brendan Gleeson, Vera Farmiga, Sam Shepard, Ruben Blades, Nora Arnezeder, Robert Patrick
Directed by: Daniel Espinosa
Music by: Ramin Djawadi
Written by: David Guggenheim
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 5, 2012
"No one is safe"
Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington), one of the CIA's most dangerous traitors, resurfaces in South Africa after eluding capture for almost a decade. During his interrogation, the safe house is attacked by brutal mercenaries forcing rookie agent, Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) to take the infamous Frost on the run. As the masterful manipulator toys with his reluctant protégé, shaking the young operative's morality and idealism, both men struggle to stay alive long enough to uncover who wants them both dead. Packed with intense action and thrilling suspense, Safe House takes you on a deadly ride through a covert world where no one and no place is ever safe.
In Safe house Denzel Washing plays Tobin Frost the most dangerous renegade from the CIA, who suddenly resurfaces after nine years on the run. He is pursued by a band on heavily armed and well trained assassins that ask no questions, take no prisoners and want the secret file he is carrying. To avoid apprehension he turns himself into the American consulate in South Africa where he is quickly identified leading to notification of the CIA. Frost is remanded to the local CIA safe house (for debriefing prior to transport back to the states) whose housekeeper is a young, eager operative named Matt Weston. When the safe house is attacked by the same band of assassins tracking Frost he and Weston escape. Now Weston has in his custody one of the most deadly, unpredictable and cunning CIA operatives ever, with no idea why he went rogue or what he is carrying. His only goal now is to bring him in but doing so requires a level of teamwork and Frost has no real interest in coming in. Thrown together, the unlikely duo must stay alive long enough to uncover who wants them dead.
Safe house is intended to be a sort of mind bending espionage thriller where edge of your seat twists and suspense blend with compelling action to keep the adrenaline flowing. I think that it succeeds in the compelling action department and to a lesser degree generates suspense but fails in the depth of its characters and richness of its concept. The plot is nothing new and the outcome is overtly predictable. Luckily the frenetic pace and superbly choreographed action more than makes up for the scripts shortcomings. Several of the action set pieces are responsible for generating the aforementioned suspense/thrills and the chemistry between Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds is spot on. There is ample gunplay, one very decent car chase and several hand to hand exchanges that prove fun to watch. Safe house isn't extraordinary but it's a solid thriller that kept me thoroughly entertained for two hours. Nuff said.
The rating is for strong violence throughout and some language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Safe House comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Studios Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 32 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.6 Mbps.
This is a high quality video presentation that seems a perfect match for the source material. Colors are deeply saturated with eye pleasing vitality and delineated depth. Resolution is exemplary during close up camera shots of the cast which reveal exquisite detail in the visible lines in their faces and the weave and texture of their clothing. Wide angle pans of the sun splashed landscapes and stone structures/buildings have excellent depth, with refining image quality that is rarely questionable. There are instances where sharpness wavers but they are brief and appear innate to the photography. Contrast is dynamically applied and blacks are respectable in depth with discernible detail in low lighting and shadows. Film grain is present and gives the majority of the presentation a noticeably filmic texture that is never intrusive. I didn't see any signs of video related artifacts and thought that in general video quality was excellent.
The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack for Safe House is a good one that makes excellent use of the entire system platform. Dialogue has definitive presence with refined vocal character and excellent room penetration. Dynamic range is excellent which lends subtle distinction to low level sounds and gravity to broader ones. This is a fairly active surround mix that employ's the subwoofer and rear channels in order to better draw you into the action. This creates a believable and enveloping sound field that replicates the film's various interior/exterior environments while perfectly mating with on the onscreen elements. Low frequency effects have substantial weight and presence that occasionally fill the room with deep, punctuated bass.
- (HD) Making Safe House - 11 minute featurette
- (HD) Hand to hand action - 8 minute featurette
- (HD) Building the rooftop chase - 4 minute featurette
- (HD) Inside the CIA - 6 minute featurette
- (HD) Behind the action - 8 minute featurette
- (HD) Safe Harbor: Cape Town - 8 minute featurette
- (HD) Shooting the safe house attack - 5 minute featurette
- U-Control: Picture-in-Picture - featuring pre-visualization and storyboard comparisons of some the film's most exciting scenes.
- pocket BLU - Journey inside the Safe House: Second Screen Feature that offers a walk and talk through the film's safe house location with the production designer and CIA technical advisor as they discuss the creation and authenticity of the set.
- My scenes bookmark feature
- D-Box Motion Code enabled
- Bonus DVD
- Ultraviolet Digital Copy
Safe House is pretty much exactly what I expected. It's a conceptually conventional espionage yarn that is complimented by fervent pacing, engaging action/thrilling set pieces and strong performances by a well placed cast led by stars Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. Universal Studios Home Entertainment brings it to Blu-ray in a fan friendly offering that features an excellent audio/video presentation combined with a decent bonus supplement package. I enjoyed Safe House and recommend that you check it out as well.
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