A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Safe House is an extremely violent action thriller about how a young, optimistic CIA agent deals with a seasoned, cynical renegade. Expect lots of guns, killing, and blood, as well as car crashes, explosions, fights, and even torture (water boarding). There's a minor scene of sexuality, but no graphic nudity. Language and drinking are both infrequent (though the former does include both "f--k" and "s--t"), and consumerism is limited to one character's use of an Apple iPhone. Teens may want to see this if they're fans of stars Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, but it's not age appropriate for younger viewers.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Though Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) works for the CIA, he hasn't seen any action in a year. Stationed in Cape Town, South Africa, he basically watches over a "safe house" -- a fancy apartment where suspects can be held and questioned. Suddenly, a longtime renegade agent, Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington), decides to turn himself in at the U.S. Consulate, and he's taken to Weston's safe house. Before long, thugs with guns break in and try to kill everyone in sight. Matt decides that it's time to hit the road and keep moving until help arrives. This isn't an easy task, as the bad guys are everywhere, and the crafty Frost keeps trying to escape. Can Weston figure out what Frost's game is?
Is it any good?
A pair of relative newcomers, writer David Guggenheim and director Daniel Espinosa were in charge of SAFE HOUSE, and their inexperience shows. Though the movie has a vicious, inky look, it also has junky, hand-held camerawork, with crazy shaking during action scenes. The script includes such old-time chestnuts as a mole within the CIA and a secret file with the names of all the corrupt agents in the world.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Safe House's violence. Was it necessary to get the movie's point across? Which scenes were thrilling, and which were disturbing? How does the impact of what you saw here compare to the kind of violence in a comic book action movie?
Tobin believes that no one is to be trusted and that everyone will eventually betray you. Matt has a lot more hope for goodness to prevail. Is there a happy medium between these two attitudes?
Do you think organizations like the CIA are susceptible to corruption in real life? Why might some aspects of working there be exaggerated in the media?
- In theaters: February 10, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: June 5, 2012
- Cast: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Vera Farmiga
- Director: Daniel Espinosa
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 115 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence throughout and some language
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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