Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
Their love story has a mellow ease -- as neither of them has much of a personality, we're just watching two swell people decide to bone
Mary F. Pols,
Apologies to Hallstrom, but an adaptation of a Sparks novel always ends up being a Sparks movie.
A movie that passably ambles along in generic-melodrama mode before finally insulting audience intelligence one time too many.
San Francisco Chronicle:
Hallstrom's understated approach clashes with the blunt-force drama of the Sparks story line, which is definitely a matter of taste.
On its own merits, Safe Haven is about as satisfying and filling as a Valentine's Day conversation heart, with far less to say.
New York Times:
The climactic inferno, which explodes whatever credibility the movie built up, is immediately followed by a cheap, out-of-the-blue supernatural twist. The equivalent of a forged signature, it attests to the movie's essential falsity.
New York Observer:
Plods along with dialogue just above the level of crayon scribblings, and the direction by the usually reliable Lasse Hallstrom is dismayingly sluggish.
Very little in this movie makes any sense, even as glossy Valentine's Day fare.
There's some theoretical appeal to the story of two emotionally damaged people learning to love again -- "theoretical" because the film needs better actors than Hough and Duhamel, and richer conversation than a shared enthusiasm for kale.
"Safe Haven" plays out less like a love story than it does a two-hour audition tape Julianne Hough commissioned to land a lucrative lip-gloss-modeling contract.
Keeping up with the movie's inane plot twists makes for a capricious good time, but an unimaginative denouement turns the whole thing into a fool's errand.
This is such stuff as paperback-rack and February multiplex dreams are made on.
Christian Science Monitor:
The latest Nicholas Sparks-derived weepfest, Safe Haven, is being marketed as a Valentine's Day special, but the plot line is closer to a stalker thriller. It's sudsy-scary. It's also not very good.
Dallas Morning News:
It's as though the filmmakers lacked the confidence to stick with the basic story, which served every element needed in a Sparks-infused guilty pleasure.
The best thing that can be said about "Safe Haven" is there is a cute romance in there somewhere.
Hough doesn't stand a chance against shoddy pacing, horrific editing, and plot direction disastrous enough to make your toes curl.
A movie whose punch line is so delightfully absurd that even after you pretty much know what's coming you spit out your Pepsi anyway.
Los Angeles Times:
Long on beauty shots, short on depth and seriously intent on tugging your heartstrings. Indeed, it demands you reach for those tissues. Sob.
Lasse Hallstrom's new film does exactly what an adaptation should: It turns the original material's greatest flaws into assets.
"Safe Haven" is passably engaging and almost works as a proper thriller. Then -- wham! Sparks throws that schmaltz pie right in your kisser.
The problem with the romantic "Safe Haven" isn't that it plays it safe, but that it plays it cheap. It's also about 10 minutes too long. And there's a final twist that, well, if you have any popcorn left by the scene, you'll want to throw it at the screen
New York Daily News:
The problem is that most of the pieces to the shoddy puzzle ultimately don't fit, making things less believable and successful.
New York Post:
A cinematic valentine you'll be reasonably content to watch on a flight in a year or so.
Like its equally weepy predecessors, it's a pretty-looking, wonderfully facile bit of emotional froth that's likely to clean up at the box office.
It's trash - entertaining and escapist, perhaps - but trash nonetheless.
Either the filmmakers were out of their minds, or they must think we're out of our minds to buy into this schmaltz.
Minneapolis Star Tribune:
The Nicholas Sparks universe finally gets the crime thriller it deserves, an erratic amalgam of mush and mystery, with an 11th-hour dose of supernatural visitation.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Hallstrom makes the mishmash palatable, and romance mainstay Duhamel provides some sweet-and-salty charm, but there's not much they can do with Sparks' canned dialogue and Hough's undercooked acting.
Globe and Mail:
Why make a movie when making a Hallmark-card-with-dialogue is so much less risky?
Another Nicholas Sparks-penned romantic potboiler about commitment-shy, G-rated lovers who find romance, overcoming dark secrets and unhappy pasts.
[The] final reel ... descends into the Vortex of Bonkers, delivering fits of unexpected laughter.
Safe Haven may not be the most dangerous place to spend Valentine's Day - but it's hardly a worthwhile romantic choice.
Safe Haven offers an unsurprising but not unsatisfying tour through recognizable Sparkville terrain.
New York Magazine/Vulture:
We genuinely like watching Hough and Duhamel circling around one another, and the movie has a nice sense of place. That all eventually vanishes with a doozy of a third act.
"Safe Haven" is one of those Valentine's Day confections that satisfy your sweet tooth until you get to their weird, off-putting center.