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Safe Haven

4/10

Stars: Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel, David Lyons, Cobie Smulders, Noah Lomax, Mimi Kirkland

Director: Lasse Hallstr÷m

This is a typical Nicholas Sparks sudser, the author mixing the soapiest of romances with a little action here and there, and a bizarre twist at the end that comes right out of nowhere (but doesn't seem to faze the heroine)

She's Katie (Hough), on the run after knifing a man and the target of a determined cop (Lyons) who, after just missing her bus out of town, works day and night to track her down.

Katie ends up at one of those sleepy New England harbour towns much favoured by such romances, finds a dinky little cottage in the woods, and meets the local shopkeeper, Alex (Duhamel), a widower with two small children (Lomax, Kirkland). Nothing of interest happens for the next hour or so, even the occasional interludes which portray the cop still on the trail, while the inevitable romance progresses under the smile of the daughter and the scowl of the son.

Meanwhile, Katie also meets a near-neighbour, Jo (Smulders), who has likeweise sought refuge in the town.

After an interminable two hours or so, we finally find out why the cop is so hell-bent on catching our Katie, and things come to a head with a 4th of July firework display that looks as though it cost half the budget of the film.

It's the kind of movie where the hero scoffs at the forecast of 'a five per cent chance' of rain, and you just know he and the heroine will be caught in a monsoon.

Director Hallstr├Âm goes through the motions, but even at the climax the tension is minimal. The villain is a bit more interesting than the hero, and Hough tries hard with impossible material.

David Quinlan

USA 2013. UK Distributor: Momentum. Technicolor.
114 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 23 Feb 2013