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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Safe House

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

Moviegoers will find "Safe House" (Universal) anything but a refuge. In fact, the titular CIA facility, located in picturesque Cape Town, South Africa, provides the setting, early on, for a mayhem-ridden confrontation that turns out to be all too characteristic of this excessively violent and unconvincing espionage thriller.

Presiding over the place — a duty that initially involves more boredom than anxiety — is low-ranking but loyal operative Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds). His tedious and solitary routine is suddenly interrupted, however, by the arrival of a high profile, heavily guarded prisoner: veteran American agent-turned-traitor Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington).

In a scene ripped from yesterday's headlines, Frost is subjected to a version of waterboarding while Matt looks on with disapproving anxiety. But the tables turn when an unidentified group of gunmen stage a massive raid, taking out all of Frost's guards with the single exception of -- yes, you guessed it — untested Matt. The pair flee, and from there on in, it's Matt's task to keep Frost alive and in custody.

Given that screenwriter David Guggenheim's script has already informed us, amid much other awkwardly handled exposition, that Frost is a master manipulator, viewers might be justified in hoping for something twisty and intriguing to ensue. Verbal and plotline pyrotechnics, say, of the sort David Mamet used to conjure up, back in the days of "House of Games" (1987) or "The Spanish Prisoner" (1998).

Instead, perfunctory exchanges about personal and institutional corruption offer no more than a scant cover story for director Daniel Espinosa's real agenda: to showcase lengthy fistfights, bloody stabbings and fatal shootouts.

The film contains constant, sometimes gory, violence, torture, cohabitation, fleeting sensuality with partial nudity and occasional rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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John of Capistrano: It has been said the Christian saints are the world’s greatest optimists. Not blind to the existence and consequences of evil, they base their confidence on the power of Christ’s redemption. The power of conversion through Christ extends not only to sinful people but also to calamitous events. 
<p>Imagine being born in the 14th century. One-third of the population and nearly 40 percent of the clergy were wiped out by the bubonic plague. The Western Schism split the Church with two or three claimants to the Holy See at one time. England and France were at war. The city-states of Italy were constantly in conflict. No wonder that gloom dominated the spirit of the culture and the times. </p><p>John Capistrano was born in 1386. His education was thorough. His talents and success were great. When he was 26 he was made governor of Perugia. Imprisoned after a battle against the Malatestas, he resolved to change his way of life completely. At the age of 30 he entered the Franciscan novitiate and was ordained a priest four years later. </p><p>His preaching attracted great throngs at a time of religious apathy and confusion. He and 12 Franciscan brethren were received in the countries of central Europe as angels of God. They were instrumental in reviving a dying faith and devotion. </p><p>The Franciscan Order itself was in turmoil over the interpretation and observance of the Rule of St. Francis. Through John’s tireless efforts and his expertise in law, the heretical Fraticelli were suppressed and the "Spirituals" were freed from interference in their stricter observance. </p><p>He helped bring about a reunion with the Greek and Armenian Churches, unfortunately only a brief arrangement. </p><p>When the Turks captured Constantinople in 1453, he was commissioned to preach a crusade for the defense of Europe. Gaining little response in Bavaria and Austria, he decided to concentrate his efforts in Hungary. He led the army to Belgrade. Under the great General John Hunyadi, they gained an overwhelming victory, and the siege of Belgrade was lifted. Worn out by his superhuman efforts, Capistrano was an easy prey to an infection after the battle. He died October 23, 1456.</p> American Catholic Blog When we are linked by the power of prayer, we as it were, hold each other’s hand as we walk side by side along a slippery path; and thus by the bounteous disposition of charity, it comes about that the harder each one leans on the other, the more firmly we are riveted together in brotherly love. —St. Gregory the Great

 
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