Safe House (Blu-ray) (2012)

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Released 7-Jun-2012

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Multiple
Featurette-Making Of-Multiple
Featurette-Picture-in-Picture x 16
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 114:53
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Daniel Espinosa

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Denzel Washington
Ryan Reynolds
Vera Farmiga
Brendan Gleeson
Sam Shepard
Rubén Blades
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Ramin Djawadi

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
French dts 5.1
Italian dts 5.1
German dts 5.1
Spanish dts 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     I have reviewed many Denzel Washington films for this website over the years and have seen most of his films that I have not reviewed. It was with great anticipation therefore that I sat down to watch this latest Denzel Washington film to come to home entertainment. Although not all his films have been masterpieces, most of them have been of good to better than good quality and have nearly always been intelligent and nearly universally well-acted, especially from Denzel himself. The acting is certainly good in this film, but the script and direction leave quite a bit to be desired. The major problem is that if you go into this CIA themed film expecting an intelligent thriller you will be disappointed. Despite a stellar cast, this is essentially just a dumb action film, with a plot which only has enough meat to it to tie together the car chases and frequent fist fights. The quote on the front cover from the Austin Chronicle is pretty much correct when it says 'Endless Action' but I don't really see that as a good thing in this case.

     The plot follows ex-CIA agent, now rogue secret seller, Tobin Frost (Washington) as to save his neck he walks into the US consulate in South Africa. He is trying to get away from some bad guys who are trying to kill him and get the secrets he is carrying. We do not find out who the bad guys are until much later in the film. Once inside the embassy, his identity is quickly established and he is transferred to a CIA safe house being manned by a young, bored agent, Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds). Weston has been agitating for a new assignment as he has had nothing to do in the safe house he mans, until now. The CIA sends an extraction team to take him to the safe house led by Daniel Kiefer (Robert Patrick) who proceeds to waterboard Frost without much prior questioning. While this is going on, the safe house is attacked by the same bad guys, who obviously have someone inside the CIA feeding them information. Weston escapes with Frost and they set off to find out who is trying to kill them and why. Other important characters include Weston's boss, David Barlow (Brendan Gleeson), a colleague of his, Catherine Linklater (Vera Farmiga) and their boss Harlan Whitford (Sam Sheperd). Ruben Blades appears briefly as a forger.

     The direction and cinematography deliver a quick cut, jerky view of the action which makes some of the action sequences hard to follow. If you enjoy that style of photography and lots of fist fights and car chases this is the film for you. As I mentioned above this high quality cast do good jobs with their roles but that is lost is a hail of gunfire and flying punches. I do enjoy action films but I wanted more from this film than just repetitive action scenes. I was hoping for something with a more interesting plot.

     Despite the presence of Denzel Washington and a top notch supporting cast, I find it hard to recommend this film.

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Transfer Quality


     The video quality is very good. The feature is presented in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio which is the original aspect ratio. It is 1080p encoded using AVC.

     The picture is excellent in close-up, with craggy faces and unshaven chins being shown in stark relief although there was quite a lot of grain in backgrounds. It is my understanding from things I have read that this look was intentional however it certainly does not show off the best of the format. Shadow detail was excellent.

     The colour is excellent showing of the beautiful Cape Town locations.

     There are no obvious artefacts other than the grain mentioned above.

     There are subtitles available in English for the hearing impaired and lots of other languages which are clear and easy to read.

    There are no obvious layer changes during playback.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     The audio quality is excellent, showing off your surround sound system.

     This disc contains a English soundtrack in DTS-HD MA 5.1 along with French, Italian, German and Spanish DTS 5.1 tracks and an Audio Descriptive track in Dolby Digital 2.0.

     Dialogue was mostly clear and easy to understand however the subtitles proved useful at times.

     The music by Ramon Djawadi adds to the action and excitement in the film.

     The surround speakers are a real highlight here, making you jump in your seat on occasion as shots hits passengers in cars in which the audience is riding. There are lots of crashes, shots and other effects.

     The subwoofer was also used resoundingly well throughout for the crashes, music and other action noises.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     A large selection of extras.


     The menu included music, action and allowed for scene selection. It also includes how to guides for disc functionality.

Making Safe House (11:16)

     A very serious and important making of featurette which includes discussion of the story idea, casting, the director, water-boarding and the relationship between the lead actors.

Hand-to-Hand Action (7:54)

     A featurette focused on the fight co-ordinator and the training he took the actors through including test footage, training footage and how the fight choreography was developed.

Shooting the Safe House Attack (5:15)

     Behind the scenes footage of how the initial attack on the Safe House was filmed including the ex-CIA technical advisor. Also covers how the actors were prepped.

Building the Rooftop Chase (3:59)

     Behind the scenes of shooting the chase scene in the township and how they built many of the buildings they used to match into the surrounding actual township. Covers stunt work, what the actors did and safety equipment.

Behind the Action (8:00)

     A featurette focused on how stunts were done throughout the film and some footage of the shotting from behind the scenes.

Inside the CIA (6:07)

     A featurette focused on the CIA advisor and how they created a realistic safe house based on his advice. Also covers how he helped the actors prepare for their roles.

Safe Harbour - Cape Town (8:51)

     Featurette focused on their use of the city of Cape Town including the surrounding natural beauty, the city streets and the football stadium.


     This is a picture-in-picture feature which includes 14 featurettes plus 2 scene explorer functions. The featurettes are generally scene specific interviews and behind the scenes footage and the scene explorers show both storyboards and b-roll footage of the scene in question. Lots of material here which fans of the movie will find very interesting as will film students who want to understand how things are done in more detail.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This Blu-ray release is the same globally.


     A disappointing spy thriller but action fans will probably get more out of it.

     The video quality is very good.

     The audio quality is excellent.

     The extras are extensive but cover fairly similar ground.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Monday, August 13, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BDP-S760 Blu-ray, using HDMI output
DisplaySharp LC52LE820X Quattron 52" Full HD LED-LCD TV . Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt into BD player. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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