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Safe House

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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<p>After many years of seclusion and prayer, he traveled to Gaul (modern-day France) with 12 companion missionaries. They won wide respect for the rigor of their discipline, their preaching, and their commitment to charity and religious life in a time characterized by clerical laxity and civil strife. Columban established several monasteries in Europe which became centers of religion and culture. </p><p>Like all saints, he met opposition. Ultimately he had to appeal to the pope against complaints of Frankish bishops, for vindication of his orthodoxy and approval of Irish customs. He reproved the king for his licentious life, insisting that he marry. Since this threatened the power of the queen mother, Columban was deported to Ireland. His ship ran aground in a storm, and he continued his work in Europe, ultimately arriving in Italy, where he found favor with the king of the Lombards. In his last years he established the famous monastery of Bobbio, where he died. His writings include a treatise on penance and against Arianism, sermons, poetry and his monastic rule.</p> American Catholic Blog Jesus was never a careerist or a glory-monger; he did not demand to be hailed as a king or lauded as a hero. He came to live among us, to suffer with us, and to serve us from the heart. He came to teach us how to love.

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