“Safe House” opens in Cape Town, South Africa, where rookie CIA agent Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) is twiddling his thumbs while house-sitting a rarely-visited covert location. He’s itching to prove himself out in the field and move somewhere more picturesque, like Paris with his girlfriend Ana (Nora Amazeder). His boss David Barlow (Brendan Gleason) tells him to sit tight and wait for his chance.
That opportunity comes along in the form of Denzel Washington. Dapper rogue asset Tobin Frost (Washington) is in town, about to cut a deal for some top-secret and very damaging files with a former member of MI6, Alec Wade (Liam Cunningham). Someone doesn’t want the deal to go ahead, and Frost only just has time to inject the data package into his butt before a gang of mercenaries burst in to kill him.
Frost evades his pursuers and makes it to the safety of the U.S. Consulate, where he hands himself in. This is big news for the folks back at the CIA Headquarters in Langley — Frost went renegade 11 years earlier and they had been trying to trace him ever since. The next stop for him is Weston’s safe house, held in the custody of some shadowy agents led by a grizzled Robert Patrick. We know they’re shadowy straight away because they skip regular interrogation methods and go straight for waterboarding.
The mercs besiege the safe house and Weston manages to escape with his high-value “guest” after everyone else is wiped out. Weston is determined to bring his prized asset in to show his worth, while Frost tries to manipulate the young agent, saying it is only a matter of time before he is betrayed by the agency. But who wants Frost dead so badly and can they stay alive long enough to find out?