The film is competently directed by Lasse Hallstrom, but the back-and-forth design of the romantic mystery defeats him. We're supposed to wonder whether Katie is a fugitive murderess, but we're not fooled. The misdirection is all too obvious. The scene-of-the-crime vignettes are montages that are clearly omitting relevant information. Besides, Sparks' heroines are paragons. When the real villain is revealed, that character is extra despicable with sprinkles on top, defiling a Fourth of July parade just so there's no confusion.
The film concludes with a forehead-slapping twist that throws the last vestige of logic out the window. Movies don't have to make a lick of sense to be great entertainment, as long as they're fleet-footed enough to keep us diverted. “Safe Haven” bogs down in every new twist. It's a 10-round cage match between form and content, fought to a punishing, pointless draw.
— Colin Covert, MCT Information Services