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Safe House

Blu Ray

  • Score
    from 2 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • Safe House offers thrilling performances & a strong Blu-ray, despite predictability.

    Safe House Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
  • Safe House's 1080p/AVC video excels with intentional grain, dynamic contrast, and vivid colors, capturing every nuanced detail and texture without distraction, embodying Espinosa and Wood's gritty vision flawlessly on Blu-ray.

  • Audio
  • Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 boasts crystal-clear dialogue amid loud action, impressive LFE, and immersive rear activity, creating a potent and dynamic soundscape that's thrilling yet overwhelming at high volumes.

  • Extra
  • Universal's bonus features merge interactive technology with depth, offering PiP interviews, action choreography insights, and a Second Screen app, all while delving into the film's making, stunts, and CIA portrayal.

  • Movie
  • Safe House's action-packed yet predictable plot pairs well with Washington's depth and Reynolds's dynamic performance, echoing familiar genre motifs under Espinosa's direction.

    Video: 73

    The Blu-ray presentation of "Safe House" captivates with a 1080p/AVC-encoded video that remains faithful to the gritty, intense aesthetic envisioned by director Daniel Espinosa and cinematographer Oliver Wood. This meticulously crafted transfer honors the film's heavily stylized photography, showcasing hot whites, stark contrasts, and a color palette that veers towards oversaturation, particularly with its bold yellows. Despite these deliberate choices, which include a variable layer of film grain adding to the movie's rough edge, the picture quality is exceptional. Primaries manage to stand out, and skin tones are rendered with naturalism, balancing the visual intensity with moments of striking clarity.

    The aspect ratio of 2.40:1 frames the action perfectly, allowing the viewer to immerse fully in the chaotic world of "Safe House". The detailed presentation captures every element with precision, from the texture of fabrics to the intricate backgrounds that set the tone of each scene. Blacks are deep and rich, enhancing the suspense in darker sequences without sacrificing detail. While some nighttime scenes push the bounds of visibility, they never detract from the overall viewing experience, maintaining a high level of detail even in the lowest lights.

    Another commendable aspect of this Blu-ray transfer is its cleanliness and stability. Free from digital anomalies such as banding, aliasing, or artifacting, "Safe House" stands as a testament to Universal's commitment to preserving the filmmaker's original vision. Edges are sharp without artificial enhancement, and the film’s intentional visual style translates exceptionally well to the home theater setting, making it a standout high-definition experience for fans of the genre and cinematography aficionados alike.

    Audio: 73

    The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track of "Safe House" on Blu-ray offers an exhilarating audio experience, albeit with a notable contrast in volume between the dialogue and the high-intensity action sequences. While voices maintain clarity and cleanliness throughout the dynamic soundscape, they are somewhat overshadowed by the loudness of explosions, gunfire, and car chases, which can be overwhelming. This disparity notwithstanding, the LFE channel delivers with brash enthusiasm, enhancing gunfire, the roar of engines, and explosive breaches with a potent, chest-thumping presence. The rear speakers bolster this immersive experience by adeptly capturing the chaos of a bustling South African city, with precise directionality and forceful sound field contributions that range from the screams of crowds to the whizz of bullets, ensuring an assertive and enveloping listen.

    Further cementing its auditory impact, the near-reference DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack excels in placing the listener at the heart of the action. The surround channels dazzle with a rich assembly of discrete effects: from traffics’ buzz to the distress of crowded places and startling echoes of gunshots, wrapping the audience in a convincingly real cocoon of sound. Musical scores extend seamlessly into the surroundings, infusing scenes with an unending surge of drama and excitement. Although slightly lacking in depth, the bass manages to support the action sequences and music with adequate responsiveness, contributing to a tight and engaging front soundstage where dialogue slices through the cacophony with precision and momentum.

    Despite minor concerns about the low-end delivery not fully matching on-screen events' intensity, this mix comes across as truly magnificent. Clear, dynamic, and impactful, it presents a well-rounded auditory experience that captures both the subtleties of quieter moments and the undeniable force of its action-packed sequences without missing a beat. "Safe House" on Blu-ray boasts an audio presentation that is as forceful and immersive as its visual counterpart, making for a spectacularly engaging viewing - and listening - experience.

    Extra: 51

    The Blu-ray extras for "Safe House" offer an in-depth exploration of the film's production, from its action-packed sequences to its nuanced portrayal of espionage. The U-Control features stand out for their innovative integration of interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and a range of visual aids like storyboards and production photographs, allowing viewers to dive deeper into the filmmaking process. Similarly, the Universal Second Screen experience enriches the viewing experience by syncing supplementary content to a second device. The carefully produced featurettes shed light on various facets of the film, including the rigorous training behind the hand-to-hand combat scenes, the challenges of shooting major action sequences like the safe house attack and the rooftop chase, as well as insights into the portrayal of the CIA and the atmospheric filming location in Cape Town. The extras maintain a professional and technical tone throughout, embodying a perfect balance between entertainment and informative content that fans and cinephiles alike will appreciate.

    Extras included in this disc:

    U-Control Features: Offers a Picture-in-Picture track with interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and more.

    Universal Second Screen Experience: Enhances viewing with additional content accessible via the pocket BLU app.

    Making Safe House: Focuses on the film's inception, casting, and production insights.

    Hand-to-Hand Action: Delves into the film’s fight choreography and preparations.

    Shooting the Safe House Attack: Breaks down the execution of a key action scene.

    Building the Rooftop Chase: Documents the stunts and filming of a chase sequence.

    Behind the Action: Covers the shooting of various action scenes throughout the film.

    Inside the CIA: Explores the detailed recreation of CIA elements in the movie.

    Safe Harbor: Cape Town: Highlights the location shooting in Cape Town.

    My Scenes Bookmarking: Allows users to bookmark their favorite scenes.

    Movie: 63

    Safe House," directed by Daniel Espinosa, at first glance could be mistaken for a film from the action-packed portfolio of Tony Scott, given its kinetic visuals and a familiar blend of tone, story, and performances spearheaded by Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. This misconception persists from the opening scene till the credits reveal otherwise. Despite Espinosa's intent to deviate from Hollywood norms, the film does quite the opposite by treading familiar grounds of the spy thriller genre. Its narrative, a concoction of espionage clichés and recycled elements, finds little novelty in its execution. The presence of high-caliber actors such as Washington and Reynolds adds gravitas to an otherwise predictable plot that echoes the constructs of many genre predecessors, ranging from Bourne series inspirations to shades of "Training Day" and "Smokin' Aces."

    Washington portrays Tobin Frost, a renegade CIA agent with a complex persona, showcasing his specialty in playing characters with rich, enigmatic backstories. Meanwhile, Reynolds delivers one of his more commendable performances as Matt Weston, a low-ranking CIA caretaker caught in a whirlwind of betrayal and covert operations in Cape Town, South Africa. Together, their dynamic elevates the material, bringing depth to otherwise stereotypical roles. However, the narrative suffers from its overt familiarity and a lack of originality in plot progression and character development, failing to surprise or engage beyond the surface level.

    Despite these criticisms, "Safe House" manages to deliver a series of intense action sequences and moments of tense drama, competently shot and edited to maintain a fast-paced viewing experience. While Espinosa's direction does not completely escape the shadows of genre staples, his handling of action choreography and character interactions showcases a solid effort. Ultimately, the film stands as a decent entry into the spy action genre bolstered by strong lead performances but is held back by its failure to innovate or challenge genre conventions.

    Total: 66

    Safe House," while not breaking new ground in the espionage thriller genre, offers an action-packed experience, benefiting immensely from the robust performances of Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. Director Daniel Espinosa’s English-language debut is criticized for its predictability but is simultaneously acknowledged for its proficient execution and engrossing excitement. The Universal Blu-ray edition of "Safe House" is a commendable release that elevates the viewing experience beyond the film’s narrative shortcomings. Boasting an adrenaline-infused video presentation and a pulse-pounding DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, the Blu-ray format enhances the film's dynamic scenes and the overall auditory experience.

    On the technical front, the Blu-ray release shines with outstanding video quality and near-reference audio that immerses viewers in the high-stakes world of espionage. Although the film itself may not offer many surprises in its storyline, the physical package compensates with its technical merits. The bonus material, while not exhaustive, provides valuable insights into the film's production and includes several high-definition exclusives that fans will find intriguing. These features add a layer of appreciation for the craft behind the movie, making this release a worthwhile acquisition for aficionados and an attractive option for general audiences looking to explore beyond the main feature.

    In conclusion, the Blu-ray presentation of "Safe House" significantly augments the film's appeal through superior video and audio quality, along with a modest but meaningful collection of extras. Despite its conventional plot, the performances of Washington and Reynolds, coupled with the high-definition enhancements, make this release a notable contender in the home entertainment market. Fans of the genre and newcomers alike will find value in this Blu-ray edition, setting a standard for how action thrillers can be appreciated in a home cinema setting.