YEAR: 2012

ROLE:  CIA Deputy Director Harlan Whitford

DIRECTOR:  Daniel Espinosa

US THEATRICAL RELEASE: February 10, 2012

Plot Summary

For the past year, Matt Weston has been frustrated by his inactive, backwater post in Cape Town. A “housekeeper” who aspires to be a full-fledged agent, the loyal company man has been waiting for an opportunity to prove himself. When the first and only occupant he’s had proves to be the most dangerous man he’s ever met, Weston readies for duty.

Tobin Frost has eluded capture for almost a decade. One of the best ops men that the CIA’s known, the ex-intelligence officer has given up assets and sold military intel to anyone with cash since he turned. From trading secrets to North Korea to aiding splinter cells, the damage he’s done to the U.S. is immeasurable. And he’s now back on the reservation with a secret.

As soon as Frost is brought in for debriefing, mercenaries come and tear apart Weston’s safe house. Barely escaping, the unlikely partners must discover if their attackers have been sent by terrorists or someone on the inside who will kill anyone standing in the way. Now it’s up to Weston to figure out who he can trust before they’re both eliminated from the game.

Film Details
Denzel WASHINGTON.........Tobin Frost
Ryan REYNOLDS...............Matt Weston
Brendan GLEASON............David Barlow
Vera FARMIGA..........Catherine Linklater
Robert PATRICK.........

Written by....................David Guggenheim
Produced by..................Universal Studios

Length..........................115 minutes

DVD release
June 5, 2012
Production Notes:

Guggenheim’s original script set the action of Safe House in Rio de Janeiro, but when filmmakers discussed shifting the setting to South Africa, the writer was happy to oblige. It was a great opportunity because Cape Town hasn't been utilized that much in American movies. The scenes in the soccer stadium were shot at Green Point Stadium, built for the World Cup. Additional first-unit shooting took place in Paris and Washington, D.C., while a second unit also shot in South Africa. The photos below were taken on location in Paris on May 26, 2011.

Sam: "I liked Daniel [Director Espinosa] when we sat down and talked;  his background impressed me. And since Denzel always chooses apt material, I thought there might be something for me in this."  Sam came to the film having previously delved into the lives of other CIA operatives. He states: “I’m good friends with Valerie Plame Wilson; I worked with her at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico. She turned me on to a couple of books, which I dipped into and began to feel the atmosphere of what these people live with.” (Sam played Valerie's father in "Fair Game" with Sean Penn and Naomi Watts)

Publicity Stills
Sam's Performance

Stephen Whitty, The Newark Star Ledger:
Keeping the pace going, too, are energetic performances from some top actors including Sam Shepard, Vera Farmiga and Brendan Gleeson.

Film critic Kam Williams:
The talented co-stars not only acquit themselves well in the convincingly-choreographed fight sequences, but their credible chemistry cultivated during downtime enables the audience to forgive the periodic holes in the picture’s Swiss cheese script. They are helped immeasurably in that endeavor by equally-powerful, support performances on the part of several consummate thespians, including Oscar-nominees Vera Farmiga (for Up in the Air) and Sam Shepard (for The Right Stuff) as well as Brendan Gleeson and Ruben Blades.

Michael Smith, Tulsa World:
Sam Shepard and Brendan Gleeson play the C.I.A. big wigs who try to push the right buttons in Reynolds, keeping him oblivious to the big picture. The two do credible work, carefully avoiding chewing too much scenery...  Despite a debut screenwriter and director, Washington as star and producer makes the kind of film that his audience can rely on: fast-paced, full of quality character actors like Brendan Gleeson and Sam Shepard, and thoroughly entertaining.

Film Critic Devin Faraci:
Ruben Blades makes an exceptionally rare appearance, and there are a couple of wonderful character actors dotted throughout - Sam Shepard and Robert Patrick especially.

Rebecca Murray,
Espinosa surrounded the two with a talented cast of supporting players that includes Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard, and Liam Cunningham, and he keeps the action coming with nary a break for the best part of the 2 hour runtime.

Kenneth Turan, LA Times:
"Safe House" has a fine cast, including co-star Ryan Reynolds and potent supporting players Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson and Sam Shepard, but it is star Washington who sets the tone.

Richard Corliss, Time magazine:
Safe House plows through its familiar twists with efficient brio and a distinguished supporting cast (Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard, Rubén Blades, Robert Patrick). It’s a decent February movie that smartly extends Washington’s God-on-the-run character.

NY Daily News:
Vera Farmiga and Brendan Gleeson have thumbnail-sketch roles — she’s an Agency lieutenant, he’s a sneaky field general — while Sam Shepard is barky perfection as chief spook.

Lawrence Toppman, The Charlotte Observer:
Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard, Liam Cunningham and Rubén Blades provide classy, useless window-dressing in supporting roles.

Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle:
At its heart, Safe House is a chase film, but the top-drawer ensemble cast – Gleeson, Farmiga, and Shepard all have key, nuanced roles as Weston's Langley-based higher-ups – and a pair of seriously intense performances from Washington and Reynolds elevate the whole above the clichéd sum of its parts.

Christopher Lloyd, Herald Tribune:
The action scenes, especially the car chases and hand-to-hand fisticuffs, are crisp and well-staged. And the supporting cast is top-notch, including Vera Farmiga, Brenda Gleeson and Sam Shepard, not to mention Ryan Reynolds, who for once is not doing that smarmy cad with the heart of gold thing.

Carole Mallory, The Wrap:
The CIA is headed by Harlan Whitford (Sam Shepard), who reminds me of Dick Cheney. He is smooth, cunning and hides his involvement in this intrigue from everyone. Captivating as only Sam Shepard can be, he is assisted by Catherine Linklater (Vern Farmiga) who is her dynamic self.

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune:
Sam Shepard and Vera Farmiga lend easy authority to their basically functional roles.

John Hazelton, Screen Daily:
Washington is as solid as ever but this is not one of his juicier roles. Reynolds is convincingly muscular in the action sequences and nicely vulnerable in some of the quieter moments. The strong supporting cast includes Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard, Ruben Blades and French up-and-comer Nora Arnezeder.

Matt's Movie Reviews:
While Washington is his usual smooth talking, no BS taking, cool cat self, the real surprise here is Reynold’s who turns in one of his better dramatic performances as a man way over his head and struggling with the consequences of his profession. Brendan Gleeson, Vera Farmiga, Sam Shepherd and Robert Patrick are solid in supporting roles.

Joanna Langfield, The Movie Minute:
The other smart move on Espinosa’s part was to hire on a roster of very good actors. Even though Gleeson, Vera Farmiga, Sam Shepard and Ruben Blades don’t have much to do, it’s a pleasure to see them bring some real starry gravity to their short scenes.

Film Critic Rene Gross:
"Standard" probably isn't a word you would expect to be used when describing a film starring Oscar winner Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Brenden Gleeson, Vera Farmiga and Sam Shepard.

Joe, Tyrell, New Jersey Newsroom:
Denzel does have some firepower on hand. The supporting cast includes Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Rubén Blades, Sam Shepard - a good start toward repopulating the world with an acting troupe. With all that talent on hand, though, director Daniel Espinosa takes the chancier route of building on Ryan Reynolds.

Paul Mazursky, Vanity Fair:
The supporting cast—Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, and Sam Shepard—is very impressive.

Jeremy Kirk,
While three possibilities for who the villain is doesn't give much room to work with - it's not difficult to sort out early in the film who the main baddie is - casting actors like Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, and Sam Shepard in those roles is a big advantage. You know whoever ends up being the villain will bring scenery chewing to a new level once they are revealed, and he or she doesn't disappoint.

Alex DiGiovanna,
The movie also stars the calm and collected Brendan Gleeson (The Guard), the talented Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air) and the versatile Sam Shepard (Blackthorn) all of whom do a decent job of making this action film move at its appropriate pace.