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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

On The Job Training

Safe House (2012) on IMDb

Plot Overview

Vive la FranceAfter showing good aptitude, CIA rookie Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) has never­the­less been side­lined to minding a mid­dling safe house in Cape­town. He's been languishing there for a year (“I'm dying here.”) He hasn't the field experience to advance so he's unable to follow his smokin' hot girl­friend Ana Moreau (Nora Arnezeder) to her new post in Paris. Then he receives an unexpected high-value guest: rogue agent Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) who is brought in for advanced interrogation (“Is that even legal?”) A breach of the safe house puts Weston & Frost in the cross hairs, on the run.

Under the tutelage of the more experienced agent, Weston hones his skills enough to stay ahead of his pursuers and manages to capture one of them and beat the crap out of him to find out, “Who sent you?” This confirms crime novelist Mallock's observation that, “All tortures … are brothers. They share the same disgusting liturgy, the same ocean of tears. A similar alarm, the same smell of horror” (162). He's one of the big boys now.


royal flushOne of Kenny Rogers's songs concerned a chance meeting with “The Gambler” on a train, who offered the passenger the advice that “the secret to surviving is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep.” The refrain of the song goes:

You've got to know when to hold 'em, Know when to fold 'em, Know when to walk away, Know when to run. You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table. There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

This wisdom of the gambling man's repartee is old as the hills and was passed on by a raconteur, Agur in Proverbs 30:1, whose four meta­phors offered the same life advice as did Rogers's Gambler. That we find in, (Prov. 30:29-31) “There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going: A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any; A greyhound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up.”

We have Agur's “lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any,” and we have Rogers's “know[ing] when to hold 'em.” In our movie the side­lined agent having phoned HQ after having lost his charge in the teeming city is advised to “stand down,” but he decides to take a gander at places where the guy might have gone. He's holding on to his hand, so to speak.

We have Agur's “king, against whom there is no rising up,” and we have Rogers's “Know[ing] when to fold 'em” A king who knows when to give in to his subjects doesn't experience any uprising. When Frost was earlier surrounded by bad guys wanting to do him in forth­with, and finding him­self right out­side the doors of the U.S. Consulate, he simply turned him­self in there and let the Marines guard him.

We have Agur's “he goat also” and we have Rogers's “Know[ing] when to walk away.” Frost advised Matt that relation­ships don't work in the secret services. The average case officer goes through four or five marriages in his career. Matt is better off breaking up with his girlfriend now.

We have Agur's “greyhound” and Rogers's “Know[ing] when to run.” There are some wicked car chases in this movie and one memorable foot race along the roofs of a universal shanty town like Mallock's, “villages typical of the Dominican Republic, with their houses made of wooden planks and corrugated metal” (147–8).

The gambler gave the advice:

You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table. There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

It ain't over till the fat lady sings. Don't leave the theater before the final scene is over.

Production Values

” (2012) was directed by Daniel Espinosa. It was written by David Guggenheim. It stars Robert Patrick, Ryan Reynolds, Denzel Washington, Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, and Sam Shepard. Washington and Reynolds share great chemistry together. The rest of the characters aren't particularly well developed, the two leads carrying most of the load.

MPAA rated it R for strong violence throughout and some language. There was a refreshing lack of bad language—except in the song over the closing titles. Its runtime is 115 minutes. There were some good location shots, but a lot of the night­time action was under-lit and the Negroid darkness of the one lead (along with his beard) under­mined his expressiveness.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

This was a great popcorn thriller with a plot sufficient to sustain the action, but with­out any frills. The fight scenes were brutal rather than fancy. The technical sets looked realistic. If that's what you're after, you'll get it.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Bruet-Ferreol, Jean-Denis, aka Mallock. The Cemetery of Swallows. Copyright © 2012 by Jean-Denis Bruet-Ferreol. Trans­lation by Steven Rendall. Trans­lation copy­right © 2013 by Europa Editions. New York: Europa Editions, 2014. Print.

Rogers, Kenny. Songwriter Don Schlitz. “The Gambler.” Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Pub. LLC. WEB.