Safe House is a very American take on the spy genre. It's a star vehicle for Denzel Washington and the young up-comer Ryan Reynolds, with a who's who of supporting players. Nice acting. Full of car chases, shoot-outs, and violence, this version of the spy game is light on sophisticated plotting or subtle clues, but heavy on adrenalin. I'm surprised it's not a summer flick. It's also a lot of fun.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is very British in feeling, based on the Le Carre Smiley book, and starring Gary Oldman and an all-star supporting cast. There's a dreary, bureaucratic grayness to this setting that feels like what I've heard of post-WWII England. There is violence - visceral (literally) scenes - but often we see only aftermath and even on-screen violence seems to have less... verve to it. This is a story of subtle deceit and slow-motion betrayal. This spying is a mental game, where violence is only one move. A love-it-or-hate-it film for most people - the pace is so slow and the drama so subtle that for some this film will be a snoozer, but if you follow the flicks of an actor's eye, the tiny reactions, it can get to be fascinating.
Depending on your mood, either film is worth watching.
Believed public domain image