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Safe Haven adds element of suspense to classic Sparks romance

renee griffin, bear facts managing editor

The recently released Nicholas Sparks film Safe Haven embodies the romance that viewers expect from Sparks. At the same time, however, the movie has a suspenseful plot separates it from some of Sparks’ similar works.

The film begins with a woman, Katie (Julianne Hough), running from the police, boarding a bus to make her escape. She decides on a tiny, picturesque town on the ocean as her hiding place. There she meets Alex Wheatley (Josh Duhamel).

Despite her troubled past, Katie finds herself falling in love with Alex as well as his two children he had with his late wife, who died of cancer. Katie also befriends her neighbor Jo (Cobie Smulders), whose presence allows the movie to end with a major plot twist that is not really necessary or convincing.

As Katie and Alex go further in their relationship, more of Katie’s past is revealed, as the cop who is chasing her is actually her abusive, alcoholic husband (David Lyons). He continues to stalk her and threaten the safety of Alex and his family, creating the suspense that makes this Nicholas Sparks addition unique.

The mystery and drama that follows Katie’s journey makes the film fairly fascinating, though there are some elements that cause it to blend in with the usual Sparks movies. Hough and Duhamel are not a particularly interesting match, but they do have decent chemistry. Lyons, however, is very compelling in his role as the dangerous villain.

Overall, despite some predictable components and a disappointing final plot twist that adds a misplaced spiritual undertone to the movie, Safe Haven had enough suspense to make it enjoyable to watch.

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