When Luke Wright (Statham
) rescues a little girl from the mob, he soon finds himself in the middle of a war between gangsters and the local police force to recover the information locked in her brain.
How can you not love Jason Statham
? For the last 10 years he’s essentially been taking on any role he can get, showed up on set long enough to kick some things, and gone on his merry way – probably whistling. Hit or miss, he carries on regardless – with stumbles like Dungeon Siege
and last year’s Killer Elite
seemingly unable to make a dent in his energy and bankability.Safe
, is his latest effort and for all its genre trappings actually manages to be more substantial than you expect while also delivering plenty for Statham
sees the Stath
protecting a 12 year old Chinese girl and maths genius who is essentially be used by the triads as a portable computer to store their nefarious transactions on. She’s also got the code to a very important secret in her head and, when she goes missing, it isn’t long before the Russians, the Triads and an entire city of corrupt cops are on the case.
is having his own troubles with the Russian mob, which has punished him with a terrible crime that leads to one of the most powerful moments in movie history. There is a scene in Safe
where Jason Statham cries. I shit you not. I wondered for a moment if it wasn’t some CG trickery then pondered what his thought process could have been. Or perhaps he threatened to drop kick his eyeball if it didn’t behave.
He's shooting at the evil dude behind you Enlarge
Emotional pyrotechnics aside, Safe
is a slightly unusual Statham
role. There’s a strong focus on somewhat laboured drama and the supposed main plot (rescuing the kid) actually doesn’t happen til near the half way point. Fans might be disappointed to learn that there’s a deficit of action scenes, with only a couple focussing on J Stats
flailing fists and feet, though one in a subway car is a doozy. Elsewhere, there’s an unfortunate focus on some rather scattily shot gun fights, aided by a few decent car chases.
The tone varies quite a bit as well – pretty heavy drama and violence sit uneasily with Statham’s
trademark quips. There are a few winning one liners here, delivered with his usual nonchalance, that hearken back to the glory days of 80s action cinema. If you’re in any doubt that there’s skill to this delivery, check out his scenes with a poorly cast Chris Sarandon
, who botches his every attempt to sound like a hard man.
Director Boaz Yakin
, who previously brought us Remember the Titans
and the ‘script’ for Prince of Persia
, also has some problems with his presentation. The music, in particular is obnoxiously repetitive – sounding like nothing so much as tape heads spewing out white noise on loop – while some spotty CG mars a train-top action moment that is utterly unnecessary.
But despite its flaws Safe
is a fundamentally entertaining product. Statham
is compelling as ever and the script manages to drop in enough mildly unexpected moments to keep the audience entertained while always remembering to leave room for a clunky, but hilarious, one liner.