Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Generally speaking, and one should never generalize, but you can’t go too terribly wrong with a Jason Statham movie.  I think I mentioned this before but my only concern with Jason and these movies he makes is that he might stumble upon some trouble for real, and instead of running for help he might get confused and actually try to kick somebody’s ass.  Hopefully that will never happen, but Statham’s movies tend to hover around a certain level of entertainment value with a bump up here to make it more entertaining than usual or a dip down there to make them less entertaining than usual.  The only thing that could really go wrong in a Jason Statham film is if somebody tried to cast him as a medieval knight, but what kind of idiot would do that?  His latest film, Boaz Yakin’s ‘Safe’, has a nice little bump up that we have to say makes this one more entertaining than usual.

Twelve year old Mei (Catherine Chan) knows numbers.  I mean she’s a virtual savant of the highest order when it comes to numbers but unfortunately for Mei this knowledge of hers has come to the attention of brutal New York Chinatown mafia boss Mr. Han Jaio, as played by actor James Hong who is obviously an immortal.  Mr. Han doesn’t trust computers, but he trusts a twelve old little girl, basically holding her sickly mother hostage to get her to keep all of his complex books in her head.

Across town we meet cage fighter Luke Wright (Statham) who usually loses all of his fights… except this one.  Bad thing is that some folks bet some heavy money on Luke to lose and Luke winning has gotten him into a heap of dookey with the Russian Mob, and the repercussions of this victory will ultimately make Luke very sad and borderline suicidal.

Now Mr. Han has given Mei a really long number to memorize.  No problem really except this same Russian Mob has kidnapped Mei and they want this number.  Luke, before he became a bad cage fighter, was a badass super cop and his former cop buddies

are aware of Mei and now they want the number.  Luke’s cop buddies hate him now because apparently he wasn’t dirty.  Or I guess we should say ‘dirty enough’.  Apparently Luke was some kind of Psycho Cop Hitman, taking out the garbage while bypassing due process, but he drew the line at stealing.  Gotta have principles I guess.  By chance Luke stumbles upon Mei on the subway and instead of killing himself decides to throw his life on the line to protect this little girl.  This particular turn of events is really, really bad news for members of the Chinese mob, the Russian mob and certain members of the NYPD.  Awful news. 

So what does this number in Mei’s head represent?  Well, that’s kind of important, I guess, but not really as it’s just a device for Luke Wright to kill, choke, stab, shoot, murder, eviscerate, mow down, and pistol whip hordes and hordes of really bad people.  And that’s what he’s going to do. 

I guess when describing ‘Safe’ we could’ve said that Luke Wright used to be ‘A Professional’, until he became ‘A Man from Nowhere’, until that little girl got ‘Taken’ and now he’s a ‘Man on Fire’.  We could say that, but we won’t because that would be kinda lame.  I guess you aren’t truly an action hero until you’ve laid it all on the line to save a helpless little girl.  It appears to us that little boys aren’t cute enough save. 

Nonetheless, what is it that makes ‘Safe’ a little easier to sit through than say ‘Transporter III’ or ‘Crank 2’?  Not a whole lot since all of these movies are remarkably similar in some fashion, but this one does have a little more character added to Statham’s stock stubbled badass.  Not a whole lot more, but a little bit more and it does make a difference in how we approach the character.  Now by the time this character gets his stuff together he turns into the prototypical invincible badass that’s always three steps ahead of his stupid adversaries, just as we come to expect, but for a moment there Luke Wright was a normal human being going through some awful stuff and we appreciated that. 

It also helps that this movie was loaded with villains, and all of these villains are completely reprehensible.  No wishy washy bad guys here, just a bunch of really bad people doing really bad things that you really wanted to see die horrible deaths. 

The action is well realized, suitably exciting, and Statham handles it easily, which by now he can do in his sleep.  The performances were solid enough, Statham doing what he does, James Hong doing what he does, Robert John Burke doing what he does… this time swapping his cops uniform from the ‘Person of Interest’ TV show for a suit… Chris Sarandon shows up as a slimy politician… doing what he does… and young Catherine Chan was probably hired due to her ability to speak flawless English and Mandarin as opposed to her ability to act, but she was fine all things considered. 

Problems with the movie are the same problems that usually come along with these types of movies, such as a narrative that often gets away from itself and hero who you never feel is in any kind danger no matter what the odds.  Also Yakin’s early editing decisions in this movie were a little jarring.  I could see what he going for but it was kind of weird to watch the execution of these sharp and sudden cuts. 

Regardless, ‘Safe’ is a good action movie.  Decent story, a touch of character thrown in, good action and a leading man who’s pretty familiar with how to pull it all off.

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