STUDIO: MTI Home Video
MSRP: $24.95
RUNNING TIME: 80 minutes

  • Trailer

The Pitch

Do you appreciate the boring, cliched storytelling of modern Hollywood action pictures?  Do you loathe the production values and stimulating action that make them at all enjoyable in the first place?  Well sir, have I got a recommendation for you…

The Humans

Director/Writer:  John Poague, David Stever
Starring: Thomas Calabro, Robert Miano, Johnny Alonso, Shiela Cutchlow, Carolina Hoyos.

The Nutshell

Former FBI agent Cooper O’Neil gets pulled back into trouble when his old partner shows up dead carrying a flash-drive.  A discharged Air Force General needs said flash-drive to pull off his dastardly robbery.  Now Cooper has to work with his former associates at the Bureau to protect his friends and the flash-drive, all the while coming to terms with his unfortunate resemblance to Rob Schneider.

I think he’s trying to tell us something….

The Lowdown

I consider myself a pretty open-minded guy, almost wishy-washy.  I am compelled to listen to both sides of every argument before I take a side.  If I were to commit to a particular religion it would be a miracle in and of itself.  Sometimes I even have to make a pros and cons list just to decide what I want for dinner.  Know that I am serious when I say this: that there is nothing that will ever convince me that the makers of Safehouse ever believed in what they were doing, or had anything approaching passion for this project. Absolutely nothing.

The film is disingenuously described as an action thriller. It is an action movie only in the sense that things happen in front of cameras, none of it enjoyable or interesting. David Stever’s script is a stew of leftovers from every fed/cop movie you’ve ever seen. His characters are merely rough sketches with all the personality of an unimaginative boy playing out a scene with action figures. Good guys will say “Don’t make me kill you” and bad guys will say “you don’t have the guts!” right before getting killed. This exchange happens twice in the last 15 minutes.

Director John Poague, tasked with breathing life into the material, isn’t much help at all. There are gunfights and car chases that look like they were cut together from home footage of school plays and family road trips. The digital video cinematography is as bland and lifeless as an online virtual tour of a home on the market. The only time the film ever shows a pulse is during one very competent hand-to-hand fight scene during the ending. iMovie effects are used GENEROUSLY, especially toward the climax, when our hero flashbacks to events he did not witness.

The scene that made the UFLL (Unwelcome Face Lickers League) cry out “Enough is enough!”  Will they ever win the fight against this offensive stereotyping?

The only people involved in the production who appear to be trying at all is the cast. Carolina Hoyos is the most convincing in the flick’s least demanding role of the innocent damsel who got pulled into this mess. Johnny Alonso does not impress as a leading man, but he hits the necessary notes of the reluctant hero. Robert Miano makes a credible villian and keeps a straight face while casually killing henchmen. The rest of the cast ranges from ok to awful, but nobody is bad enough to warrant attention.

I can respect making an awful movie that comes from the heart.  I know it’s hard making a micro-budget indie film and I can admire having the nerve to tell your story.  Making your film is the only way to satisfy that burning desire.  This brings me to my real problem with Safehouse; it simply has no reason to exist.  The movie is hopelessly bland and generic and wastes all creative freedom that should be enjoyed when making a cheap indie movie.  It hardly even tries to be entertaining as a mainstream action picture.  It is a black hole of artistic intent.

“If it were up to me, I would kill you first.  Then I’d bang you.”
This is not a joke caption.  It’s the dialogue from this scene.

The Package

The cover features a masked sniper about to use a badass, expensive looking rifle.  Nothing of the sort ever shows up in this film.  Not even a cheap sniper. 

The picture quality on this DVD is atrocious, but for all I know it’s an accurate transfer of the source material (which says is HD, unbelievably).  The sound is clear enough to hear the dialogue and all the limp, lifeless action sound effects. 

As for special features, the promo copy had nothing except a trailer that accurately warns the viewer of the boring tripe about to unfold.

Which does this most resemble: intimidating tough guy face?  Or little boy concentrating REAL HARD on Tetris?

1 out of 10