Denzel Washington (Training Day)
Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Sam Shepard (Swordfish)
Ruben Blades (Predator 2)
Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones)
Joel Kinnaman (Robocop 2014)
Stephen Rider (Daredevil)
Tracie Thoms (Cold Case)
Sebastian Roche (The Originals)
In Cape Town, South Africa, ex-CIA NOC operative turned traitor and 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 and then 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 realize 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. When Weston makes contact with his superior, David Barlow (Brendan Gleeson), at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, Catherine Linklater (Vera Farmiga), another CIA operative, orders Weston to lie low and await further instructions.
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 unable to catch Frost. Weston goes to recapture Frost but Frost ambushes him and aims a gun at him as if to shoot him, but then tells him “I only kill professionals”.
Weston is ordered to visit the nearest American embassy for debriefing. Instead he meets with Ana and reveals that he is a CIA agent. He tells her to return to Paris for her safety. Weston tracks Frost to a shantytown in Langa, where Frost is meeting Nicaraguan national 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. The device contains Israeli intelligence which contain details of corrupt officials and secret money transfers involving American CIA, British MI6, and other intelligence agencies; Weston recognizes the reference to the Mossad because the CIA accused Frost of selling secrets to them before he became a rogue agent. Weston’s own superiors may be implicated. Weston takes Frost to the new safe house, where Weston keeps the housekeeper, Keller (Joel Kinnaman) at gunpoint, because 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 leaves Weston, who passes out from his wounds. Meanwhile, Linklater arrives in South Africa with Barlow to collect Frost and Weston from the safe house, but on the way is shot and killed by Barlow, who goes to the safe house and 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 CIA Deputy Director Harlan Whitford (Sam Shepard), 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 leaves, then leaks the files to the media, incriminating personnel from many intelligence agencies, including Whitford. Later on, Weston sees Ana across a street in Paris, France. She reads a note passed to her from him, looks up at Weston, and they both make eye contact and she smiles before Weston walks away.Safe House is a great action thriller with non-stop action. This is the first mainstream feature for Daniel Espinosa and he comes forth as promising due to his skillful camera work with the action scenes. One of the most impressive is the rooftop chase at night. The editing is pitch perfect as it allows the audience to feel the danger of the situation from each point of view. This film could have been bleak and predictable if the leads were miscast but Washington and Reynolds’ enigma make the film satisfyingly fun and fresh.