Safe House (2012 film)

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Safe House
Safe House Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDaniel Espinosa
Produced byScott Stuber
Written byDavid Guggenheim
Music byRamin Djawadi
CinematographyOliver Wood
Edited byRichard Pearson
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • February 10, 2012 (2012-02-10)
Running time
115 minutes
  • South Africa[1]
  • United States[1]
Budget$85 million[2]
Box office$208.1 million[3]

Safe House is a 2012 South African-American action thriller film directed by Daniel Espinosa, starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. The film follows Matt Weston (Reynolds), a CIA agent on his first low-level posting in Cape Town who is in charge of a safe house where the CIA is interrogating Tobin Frost (Washington), a veteran operative who has allegedly betrayed the agency. When the safe house is attacked by mercenaries who kill almost all the agents, Weston flees with Frost in his charge, and they end up on the run. As the team of killers, who seem to be one step ahead of the pair, track them throughout Cape Town, Weston begins to wonder who to trust.

The film was released on February 10, 2012, in North America by Universal Pictures.[4] Filming took place in Cape Town, South Africa. The film premiered in New York City on February 7, 2012, and was released in U.S. theaters on February 10, 2012. While Washington and Reynolds' performances were praised, the film received mixed reviews. The film earned $208 million worldwide against its $85 million budget.[3]


In Cape Town, South Africa, ex-CIA NOC operative turned international criminal Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) acquires a data storage device from rogue MI6 agent Alec Wade (Liam Cunningham). After, the pair is attacked by a team of mercenaries led by Vargas (Fares Fares), Wade is killed and Frost is cornered by the gunmen, leaving him no choice but to surrender to the American consulate.

Frost is transferred to a local safe house maintained by "housekeeper" Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds), a young agent on his first low-level CIA posting. The CIA sends in a team led by veteran agent Daniel Kiefer (Robert Patrick) to interrogate Frost and bring him back to the US. Weston watches uneasily as Kiefer and his men waterboard Frost. When the power to the safe house is cut, the CIA team realise that they are in grave danger. Vargas and a heavily armed group attack the safe house, killing Kiefer and his team. Weston escapes, taking Frost as his charge. Weston makes contact with his superior, David Barlow (Brendan Gleeson), at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, along with Catherine Linklater (Vera Farmiga), the operative in charge of Frost's interrogation and Kiefer's superior, and CIA Deputy Director Harlan Whitford (Sam Shepard), who is overseeing the operation. Linklater orders Weston to lay low and await further instructions.

Frost immediately begins to manipulate Weston as they go into hiding, insisting that someone within the CIA gave away their location to the mercenaries and that Weston will be the one forced to take the fall if things go wrong, warning him to be wary of the words "We'll take it from here". Weston hides out with Frost and calls his girlfriend Ana Moreau (Nora Arnezeder), a French medical resident who does not know that he works for the CIA, and tells her to leave the house. Barlow later tells Weston to go to Cape Town Stadium to retrieve a GPS device with the location of another nearby safe house. He retrieves the GPS at the stadium, but Frost creates a diversion and gets away by disguising himself as a policeman. Weston, detained by the police, escapes but is forced to fire at police when they attempt to arrest him again. Weston goes to recapture Frost but Frost disarms him and aims as if to kill, only to fire next to Weston's head and say "I only kill professionals".

Weston contacts Langley and informs Barlow and the others of Frost's escape. Linklater orders him to visit the nearest American embassy for debriefing after hearing that Weston fired at the police. When Whitford tells him "We'll take it from here.", Weston decides to pursue Frost himself. He meets with Ana and reveals that he is a CIA agent, telling her to return to Paris for her safety.

Linklater and Barlow are instructed to go to South Africa in order to pursue Frost. En route, Linklater suggests that Weston has joined Frost, which Barlow denies. Weston tracks Frost to a shantytown in Langa, where Frost is meeting Nicaraguan Carlos Villar (Rubén Blades), an old contact and document forger. Vargas and his team attack again, killing Villar along with his wife, but Frost eludes him and his men with Weston's help. Weston brutally interrogates one of Vargas' wounded mercenaries, who reveals that Vargas is working for the CIA, which is seeking to retrieve the storage device Frost received from Wade.

As they bandage their wounds, Frost tells the story of how he was forced to kill an air traffic controller while on a mission, having been told he was helping smuggle weapons. He later learned of the man's innocence, and that he was simply part of a plot to assassinate a whistle-blower who would expose wetwork committed by the CIA. Frost tells Weston he continued his career and eventually went rogue simply because he was good at it, and urges Weston to not kill innocent people. Weston takes Frost to the new safe house, where Weston keeps the housekeeper, Keller (Joel Kinnaman) at gunpoint, believing he no longer knows if he can trust the CIA.

Keller attacks Weston, and after a brutal struggle, Weston breaks Keller's neck, but he is badly wounded in the fight. Frost reveals the device contains Israeli intelligence which includes details of corrupt officials and secret money transfers involving American CIA, British MI6, and other intelligence agencies; Weston recognises the reference to the Mossad because the CIA accused Frost of selling secrets to them before he became a rogue agent. Frost leaves Weston, who passes out from his wounds. Meanwhile, Linklater arrives in South Africa and informs Barlow of the device's existence, but not its contents. Barlow then kills her and travels to the safe house where he reveals that he is Vargas' employer. He confirms that the file contains incriminating evidence against him, and encourages Weston to lie about what has happened. Frost returns and kills Vargas and his men but is shot by Barlow. Weston then shoots Barlow in the chest, killing him. Frost gives Weston the file and tells Weston he is better than him before he dies from his injuries.

Back in the United States, Weston meets with Director Whitford, who informs Weston that unflattering facts about the CIA must be removed from his report, but that he will be promoted. He asks Weston about the file's location but Weston denies having been told about it by Frost. Whitford states that whoever has those files will have many enemies. Weston assures Whitford that he will "take it from here", visibly shaking Whitford, and leaves. He leaks the files to the media, incriminating personnel from many intelligence agencies, including Whitford. Later, Weston has tracked Ana in Paris. He sends a note to her as she sits in a cafe across the street. She reads the note, looks up at Weston, and smiles.



Safe House: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Safe House.jpg
Soundtrack album by Ramin Djawadi
ReleasedFebruary 21, 2012 (2012-02-21)
GenreFilm score
LabelVarèse Sarabande 067137
ProducerRamin Djawadi
Ramin Djawadi chronology
Fright Night
Safe House: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Game of Thrones: Season 2

Ramin Djawadi composed the score to the film.[5]

Track listing[edit]

All music by Ramin Djawadi.[5]

1."Safe House"3:15
2."A Hundred Lies a Day"3:15
3."Get in the Trunk"4:24
4."Do I Make You Nervous?"3:07
5."I Used to Be Innocent Like You"2:11
6."Tobin Frost"2:19
7."Off the Grid"3:27
8."Do What You Have to Do"4:48
9."Don't Kill Innocent People"3:45
10."Who Do You Work For?"3:44
11."Walk Away"6:03
12."People Change"2:16
13."Be Better Than Me"4:11
15."More Past Than Future"3:19
16."12 Months"3:05
18."I'll Take It From Here"5:46
Total length:68:51

Songs used in the film but not included in the soundtrack album were:


The film premiered in New York City on February 7, 2012, and was released in U.S. theaters on February 10, 2012. Safe House was released to Blu-ray and DVD on June 5, 2012 in the United States.[6]


Box office[edit]

The film grossed $126,373,434 in North America and $81,702,771 in other territories, for a worldwide total of $208,076,205.

Safe House earned $13.6 million on opening day, and $40.1 million over the weekend including $10.5 million overseas, ranking in second place to The Vow. The film was Denzel Washington's second-biggest opener, behind American Gangster ($43,565,115) and Ryan Reynolds' fourth-biggest opener, behind Deadpool (film) ($132.4 million),X-Men Origins: Wolverine ($85,058,003) and Green Lantern ($53,174,303). In its second weekend, it became #1 at the box office with $23,641,575, beating The Vow. It was the second film in 2012 to cross the $100 million mark domestically behind The Vow and the fourth film to cross the $100 million mark worldwide behind Underworld: Awakening, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, and The Vow.[3]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 53% based on 177 reviews; the average rating is 5.7/10. The site's consensus reads, "Safe House stars Washington and Reynolds are let down by a thin script and choppily edited action sequences."[7] On Metacritic the film holds an average weighted score of 52 out of 100 based on 36 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[8] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.[9]

Possible sequel[edit]

In September 2012, it was announced that Universal had hired screenwriter David Guggenheim to write a script for a possible sequel.[10]


  1. ^ a b "Safe House". European Audiovisual Observatory. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  2. ^ "Movie Projector: 'The Vow' to sweep audiences off their feet". Los Angeles Times. February 9, 2012. Retrieved February 17, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c "Safe House". Box Office Mojo. May 15, 2012. Retrieved June 2, 2012.
  4. ^ Kit, Borys (October 29, 2010). "Universal Announces Release Dates for 'The Bourne Legacy,' 'Safe House'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 18, 2010.
  5. ^ a b "Safe House by Ramin Djawadi". Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  6. ^ Ball, Chris (June 3, 2012). "Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds star in spy thriller 'Safe House,' new on DVD and Blu-ray". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved December 30, 2014.
  7. ^ "Safe House". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  8. ^ "Safe House Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  9. ^ "Safe House". CinemaScore. Retrieved January 28, 2018.
  10. ^ Kit, Borys (September 5, 2012). "'Safe House 2' in the Works at Universal (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter.

External links[edit]