Director: Boaz Yakin
Cast: Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, Robert John Burke, James Hong, Reggie Lee, Anson Mount
Plot: A young girl (Chan) with a remarkable memory becomes a key tool for the Chinese triads, making her a target for the Russian mafia and corrupt cops, putting her life in constant danger. Enter Statham…
Jason Statham has a tough life. As Luke Wright, he plays an ex-cop turned cage-fighter, who refuses to throw a fight for the Russian mafia. They retaliate by murdering his wife and throwing him out of town. Not content with that, they occasionally spy on him and murder anyone who he gets too close to. Wright adapts into a loner, homeless figure who avoids human contact and turns into a kind of madman. Meanwhile, the Chinese triad kidnap a young girl, Mai, with a remarkable memory when it comes to numbers and make her memorise their accounts, to avoid leaving incriminating evidence around. However, the Russians want her on their side, or at least dead, so they pay off the corrupt police to take her out. Attacked from all sides, Mai runs, crossing paths with Luke Wright, who sees her as the one reason to not commit suicide.
The good thing about Jason Statham is that his movies are usually in the ‘generic action movie’ tier, yet they have enough money put into them to actually look smooth enough to watch, without risk of a terrible Van Damme or Steven Seagal lack of plot. However, with flops like ‘Killer Elite’ and ‘Blitz’ floating around, there is still a bit of a gamble investing in a Statham DVD. Thankfully, ‘Safe’ falls the right side of good and is a pretty enjoyable action flick. The thing with Jason Statham is that he has the desire to push himself as an actor. With Van Damme, he cannot act at all, yet is content to make a worthwhile film in other areas. Statham, however, gives 100% and we usually get unique anti-heroes. Sometimes this goes a little pear-shaped, especially when the director doesn’t seem capable of encouraging a performance out of him. Statham does everything right here and the early scenes where he contemplates suicide should be touching. However, director Yakin makes the drama feel routine and Statham’s would-be career-making turn as a depressed ex-marine seems strained. One day, Statham will get the role he deserves, but it isn’t ‘Safe’.
Thankfully, ‘Safe’ delivers on the action side of things, which is the reason you are here. When we get to the shooting, there is no limit to the stuff. The film is successful, because of the way there are so many enemies. One moment, the Stath is battling off the Triads, then the police catch with him. And the Russians are usually just around the corner. On top of that, the Triads are fighting the Russians and the police are trying to work out, who will pay more. As well as seeing Jason Statham fight foes, they are just as likely to turn on each other too. The cops are especially back-stabbing, especially chief of police, Wolf, who conducts the alliances with both the crime bosses and Luke Wright himself. There appears to be endless waves of action. Even if the final confrontation is a little lacking in fighting, it finds its own satisfying conclusion, which you can find a way to appreciate.
I am not usually against new actors coming into a film, but the only name you are likely to recognise here is Jason Statham. Seeing as the other characters are given little else to do besides look evil, it would have been nice to get a few famous faces into the movie. As it stands, there is never really a fixed nemesis for Statham to play off against and the movie kind of ends up feeling a little lost. There isn’t a build-up as of such, more like endless action until it’s over. Although the plot lifts it a little higher than your standard action, the lack of focus doesn’t take it any further.
Final Verdict: Not the best Statham, but definitely not the worst. A solid action thriller with a good plot to boot.