By Steve Mesa
“Safe” is a brainless action movie that will satisfy most Jason Statham fans if they can forgive the cliché-ridden script and ridiculous plot.
In the film, Statham plays Luke Wright, a former New York cop and current mixed martial arts fighter. When he refuses the Russian mob’s request to take a dive in an upcoming fight, they kill his wife. Homeless and contemplating suicide, Wright encounters Mei (Catherine Chan), a young girl on the run from the Russian and Chinese mob because she has memorized the combination to a safe that contains $30 million.
Wright assumes the role of the girl’s protector and finds himself a target of not only the Russian mob but the Chinese mob and his former colleagues at the NYPD.
The script is filled with enough bad dialogue and flimsy one-liners to make you think Michael Bay directed it; sans the big explosions. Aside from Luke and Mei, the rest of the characters are nothing more than stereotypes ripped-off from a 80’s action film complete with corrupt cops and heavy-accented Russian gangsters.
“Safe’s” character issues hurt Statham the most and highlight one of his biggest problems: he is basically the same guy in every movie he is in.
He is being type-cast in this type of role and can’t seem to break out from being typecast as a cop, assassin or mercenary. It’s time for him to step out of his comfort zone and play a character that is not a variation of his past roles. Stop kicking and shooting. Perhaps a romantic comedy?
Though he often plays the same tough guy role, like in “Crank” and “The Transporter,” he does get the job done. He spends the entire movie punching, kicking and shooting people. I expected nothing less.
All the while, Statham delivers a decent performance as a man who has nothing to live for. When he sees the opportunity to help an innocent girl, he kicks into high-gear and is willing to put his life on the line to protect her.
Twelve-year-old Catherine Chan manages well for her Hollywood debut. Mei looks up to Luke as somewhat of the father-figure she never had, providing the emotional core for the movie.
The action sequences, especially the fight choreography, are not bad for a B-movie of this caliber. But the film ultimately tries way too hard to imitate John Woo’s style of gun fights, where actors fly through the air, guns blazing and the décor deteriorates from stray bullets.
“Safe” contains everything you look forward to in a Jason Statham movie. Though it does feature the rare occasion of a descent performance from Statham, the movie itself is forgetable. It is a possibility that brain cells are at risk if moviegoers choose to subject themselves to watch this film.