Plot: What’s it about?
Mace Sowell (Patrick Stewart) used to be one of the top agents for the Department Of Intelligence, but now he has become an old man battling the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. This disease is usually blamed for Sowell’s eccentric behavior patterns, such as his constant paranoia that his past and knowledge will cost him his very life. You see Sowell has information that could break someone in a high level of power and as such he feels his life is always in danger, since many others who knew have been murdered. As such Sowell has converted his home into a virtual stronghold loaded with weapons and cutting edge security devices. But even with all this protection and his own precautions he still feels vulnerable and tries to convince others he is in danger. But his daughter feels it is his disease which makes him this way and she hires a young caretaker to watch over him, much to Sowell’s dismay. As time passes Sowell is more and more sure that his life is in danger, but no one believes him. Is the danger just a side effect of his disease, or is Sowell’s life truly in grave danger?
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this movie since I’d never seen it before, but I had heard some very good things about it. I’ve seen the film a couple times now and I am very pleased with the overall results, which provide a solid and entertaining thriller. The performance of Patrick Stewart drives the movie, but the writing and visuals are excellent and it all combines to make one outstanding movie. As soon as I learned of the storyline I was sold and the manner in which it all unfolds is terrific, which makes a good thing even better. This is a tense thriller but it also has touches of humor, action, and even some effective emotional sequences. We connect with Stewart’s character from the start which makes it more and more involving as the movie continues. As the events begin to take shape we’re torn between whether what we’re seeing is real or just part of Stewart’s character’s imagination. This is much more than a simple action or thriller film and I feel it is one of the better movies I’ve seen of late. I recommend this movie to fans of thrillers and the like and anyone who wants to see Patrick Stewart in a show stopping performance.
This film was directed by Eric Steven Stahl, who also helped produce and pen the screenplay and story for the movie. This is only Stahl’s second offering and I think he has improved on his previous work by leaps and bounds. His writing is more taut and effective in this movie and he also uses more activity and visual tricks, which makes for a more interesting film in turn. This is a solid effort from Stahl and I hope to see more from him in the future, hopefully along the same lines as this. Stahl also wrote and directed a film titled Final Approach, but if I were you I’d leave that one alone. The lead role in this film is portrayed by Patrick Stewart (X-Men, Star Trek: Generations), who is nothing less than stellar in his performance. I’ve always enjoyed Stewart’s work in the past, but in this movie he has taken his craft to the next level and impressed me more than ever. I was also impressed by the turns given by Kimberly Williams (Father Of The Bride, Indian Summer) and Hector Elizondo (Runaway Bride, Beverly Hills Cop III), both of whom provide excellent supporting performances. The supporting cast also includes Craig Shoemaker (Scream 2, Tomcat Angels), Joy Kilpatrick (Desperate But Not Serious), James Harlow (Tv’s Bloodlines), and Julia Vera (The Net, Speed).
Video: How does it look?
Safe House is presented in the original 1.33:1 or full frame aspect ratio. This film was shown on Showtime and I imagine it looked much like this when it was broadcast, perhaps this image is sharper though. The colors seem bright and bold with no smears to be seen, and I found no errors within the flesh tones either. The contrast is solid as well, with well defined and complex shadows with no visible detail loss. Some minor edge enhancement is visible, but no other compression hiccups appear.
Audio: How does it sound?
This release contains English and Spanish language tracks, both of which are presented in the ultra-stereo format. I went with the English version since I don’t speak Spanish and I was pleased with the overall results. There isn’t much in terms of high impact audio to be found in this movie and the front channels were able to handle it all without serious problems. I would have liked a true surround track for this title, but I suppose we can’t win them all. The music sounds good and shows no signs of distortion and dialogue is crisp and always easily audible.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This release contains a few bonus features including a unique puzzle, which when solved unlocks an interview with Patrick Stewart. In this minute long clip Stewart discusses how he needed to develop his acting skills in order to fulfill his character in this film. Also included are filmographies for four actors and the director of the film and some cast and crew interviews. Brief interviews with Patrick Stewart, Kimberly Williams, and director Eric Steven Stahl shed some light on various aspects of this production.