Review: 'Safe Haven' is routine romantic thriller
This film image released by Relativity Media shows Julianne Hough, right, and Josh Duhamel in a scene from "Safe Haven." (AP Photo/Relativity Media, James Bridges)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — It's easy to understand why Hollywood loves doing business with author Nicholas Sparks. His books are huge best-sellers, and several of the films adapted from his novels — "Message in a Bottle," ''The Notebook," and "Dear John" — have achieved impressive box office grosses. The latest Sparks adaptation, "Safe Haven," will probably continue his winning streak, especially with its Valentine's Day opening pegged to lure female fans. A thriller element that has not been present in earlier Sparks movies is designed to draw reluctant male viewers to see the picture, but they won't respond with the same enthusiasm as his core audience of woozy romantics.
This film image released by Relativity Media shows David Lyons in a scene from "Safe Haven." (AP Photo/Relativity Media, James Bridges)
The mystery plot recalls a 1991 Julia Roberts movie, Sleeping with the Enemy, in which the heroine fled an abusive husband and tried to re-invent herself in a brand new community. In this case our heroine, Katie (Julianne Hough), runs away from a toxic marriage in Boston, boards a bus, and on a whim gets off in a small seaside community in North Carolina. There she meets a sensitive widower, Alex (Josh Duhamel), raising two young children on his own. Because of their troubled histories, they approach each other warily, but there's little doubt about where their relationship is headed. Before long, however, a nasty blast from Katie's past arrives to threaten her newfound bliss.