Director: Boaz Yakin
MPAA Rating: R
Film Pulse Score: 6.5/10
Safe, the new Jason Statham vehicle, is a blasting, high-energy ball of skull bashing, nut crunching, and head cracking enjoyment. It shows that Statham still packs a punch and is not afraid to play the same role again, and again, and again. Safe is a throwback film to classic action movies, where protagonists didn’t need solid back-stories or character development, just the ability to constantly kick ass.
Luke Wright (Statham) is an underground cage fighter, trying to make ends meet by getting pummeled and paid to lose. After one night of putting an up-and-coming fighter in a coma, Wright upsets the wrong people and the Russian mob kill his family and give him an ultimatum. They won’t kill him, only every single person he ever gets close to. He can end it all by killing himself. Yeah, that’s the most economical way to use manpower, right?
Wright eventually becomes a swaggering, alcoholic wino, stumbling the streets of New York City, descending into a pit of suicidal desperation until he spots Mei (Catherine Chen), a Chinese prodigal 11-year-old girl, in a train station on the run from the same Russian mob that killed Wright’s family. Wright saves Mei in a realization that she represents a second chance for him, and in turn uncovers an all out war between the Russian mob, the Chinese mob, led by James Hong (Kung Fu Panda, Balls of Fury), and a group of dirty cops, out to get Wright for a previous time that he screwed them over…when he was a cop.
This film moves fast and leaves no prisoners behind. The back stories and introduction play out in a fast-paced, no holds barred thirty minutes and as the movie progresses, Wright’s back story gets more and more convoluted but we are moving so fast from scene to scene that there isn’t enough time to dwell on inconsistencies.
Because Statham has given audiences his usual manliness action guy role (95% of His Movies) he slides into this role with ease and familiarity. Wright is a transparent character that delivers one-liners every five seconds and Statham owns them every time. Any other actor playing Wright would fall flat. Statham shows that he has a certain persona that he can milk, similar to the great action stars, like Bruce Willis and Schwarzenegger.
The director, Boaz Yakin, proves that he is a much better director (Remember the Titans, Fresh) than writer (Prince of Persia, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights) but still afraid to go over the edge. I think he’s on the verge of obtaining something awesome, maybe with his next written feature Now You See Me, starring Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman, Isla Fischer, Jesse Eisenberg, and Dave Franco will make up for his past (damn, now I really want to watch Now You See Me).
Basically, Safe is exactly what you think it is. It doesn’t offer anything new that you haven’t seen before, and honestly, you probably will experience some déjà vu because of its similarities to almost every other action movie. Safe is just another explosive, entertaining action B-movie, nothing more, nothing less.