‘Safe’ Review

Published 2 years ago by , Updated November 26th, 2014 at 7:43 pm,

Safe 2012 starring Jason Statham Review Safe Review

In the end, Safe is probably a safer bet as a rental.

In Safe, Jason Statham stars as Luke Wright, a former NYPD cop turned cage fighter, whose world is shattered when a Russian mob kills his family and places him under (a very strange) mandate of living exile: the mob will watch Wright’s every step, and kill anyone he gets close to. The imposed purgatory transforms Wright into an alcoholic vagabond, wandering the streets of NYC in misery and isolation.

Things change for the disgraced cop when he runs across a brilliant young girl named Mei (Catherine Chan), who is being pursued by the same Russian mob that killed Luke’s family – and also a Chinese Triad and squad of corrupt cops that Wright disgraced once upon a time. Luke decides to flip the script on all his foes by getting his hands on Mei first, thereby uncovering the secret that has so many bad men chasing the same little girl. But what Luke doesn’t know is that the mystery locked away inside Mei’s genius mind is not only valuable to the crooks, but high-ranking city officials and other shadowy figures – some of whom are tied to Luke’s sordid past.

Jason Statham and Robert John Burke in Safe 2012 Safe Review

Safe is the epitome of a “throwback action film.” The movie plays like some over-the-top, all-in-one-night heist flick resurrected from the late ’80s/early ’90s heyday of testosterone-fueled dude movies. It was both written and directed by Boaz Yakin, the filmmaker best known for the feel-good sports drama, Remember the Titans. Yakin’s filmography is filled with evidence that his directorial skills (see: Titans, Fresh, A Price Above Rubies) are better than his writing skills (From Dusk Till Dawn 2, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, Prince of Persia), and Safe only serves as further evidence of this disparity.

In terms of direction, Safe is a thrilling and well-choreographed mix of old school and new era action movie making - and Statham pulls off the bone-crunching, face-cracking, martial arts sequences with a swagger that makes one nostalgic for the days of Van Damme and Seagal at their best. Statham is also one of the only leading men of today who can spit cringe-worthy one-liners in a somewhat catchy and funny way – a trademark ability of action veterans like Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. In all honesty, without Statham and all the charisma he brings to the table, Safe wouldn’t even be worthy of a theater screen.

Jason Statham in Safe 2012 Safe Review

Jason Statham as Luke Wright in ‘Safe’

…This is largely because the movie is an absolute mess, as far as story and character go. The premise is straightforward  (catch the little girl), but Luke Wright, as a protagonist, is so full of holes that even a brief second of time spent analyzing him will yield questions raised, but never answered; contradictions never set straight; choices that are hard to understand, and a backstory that is so convoluted by the time the final twists and so-called “reveals” come around, it thwarts any ability to make sense of this character at all. (Luckily(?), the break-neck pace of the film offers almost no time at all to ponder such matters.)

Equally implausible is the general level of mayhem and destruction that is inflicted upon the face of New York City. In a post-911 era, it becomes impossible not to notice that the same people are running through the streets from high-speed chases to gunfights – causing murders and mass chaos – without being swiftly identified and curtailed by the hand of martial law. Of course, an action movie is supposed to stretch reality in this sense – but Safe manages to over-stretch things, thereby snapping us right back into reality as we question the plausibility of what is occurring on screen.

As far as acting goes Statham carries the show, but gets help from Catherine Chan, who shows definite skill as a young lead – with wit and timing that far exceeds her years. She’s a great foil for Luke – not so much a weepy child in distress, more a cunningly shrewd player in a very dangerous game. Between the two of them, Luke and Mei make for solid protagonists, with a charming odd-pair rapport.

Jason Statham and Catherine Chan in Safe Safe Review

Jason Statham and Catherine Chan in ‘Safe’

Recognizable faces fill out the supporting cast, including famous character actors like James Hong (Kung Fu Panda) as the menacing leader of the TriadReggie Lee (Fast and the Furious) as his ruthless and relentless enforcer; Robert John Burke  (Robocop 3) as a corrupt police captain; Chris Sarandon (The Princess Bride) as the seedy mayor of NYC, and Hell on Wheels star Anson Mount as the mayor’s shady bag man, who knows Luke from way back. In fact, Safe plays like a who’s who of ‘seen him somewhere’ faces that come, go and leave little impression beyond the moment in which Statham’s character dispatches them.

In the end, Safe is probably a safer bet as a rental – but for fans of Statham-brand action flicks (The Transporter, Death Race, The Mechanic, Crank) this movie is pretty much in line with the actor’s other work. It ain’t too smart, it ain’t too sophisticated, but it does have its charm and is entertaining enough for what it is: an action-packed, B-movie experience.

Safe is now playing in theaters everywhere. It is Rated R for strong violence throughout, and for language.

Our Rating:

3 out of 5
(Good)

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23 Comments

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  1. I’ll be seeing it. I love Statham’s movies. Except for the Crank movies – total pieces of garbage.

    • Agree.

      This is the movie I want to see in theaters on a regular basis.

    • I’m starting to get worried, because I find myself continually agreeing with you. :-D

      • DOn’t let it bother you. Soon ALL will agree with me. MUAHAHAHAHAHAH!

        • Shouldn’t that read:

          Soon all will agree with me. Resistance is futile! 8-)

  2. haven’t liked his recent movies, they tend to have alot of talking and not enough creative fight scenes. imo transporter 1 is one of his best movies, but even that was trash compared to alot of other action/martial arts movies.

    kofi is this better then mechanic and his other recent movies or equally as lacking/broken in pace and how is the camera work/editing ?

  3. These types of boring movies don’t deserve to make it to screen! Where’s all the intelligent stuff? Where’s the rich storylines? Where’s the characters that we actually care about? That all died a long time ago and now what are we left with? Empty shells of movies, copying each other endlessly, have some explosions, a fight scene, a mob boss, BAM movie done. And don’t get me started on the state of the horror genre. I absolutely cannot stand cinema today and I honestly can’t say I’ve enjoyed anything I’ve seen in the cinema since Inception.

    • @Ryan,

      Not everything neeeds to be some indepth mindblowing masterwork of film. Turn off your brain everyonce and a while. Some times its just fun to watch crap blow up,listen to bad oneliners and see the good guy win. ;) There’s a place for this sort of “cotten candy” flim making.
      But much like the sweet stuff…i only have it everyonce and a while.

      • Honestly I find myself falling asleep in movies such as this, for example in recent months ‘Safe House’, ‘Lockout’ and ‘Contraband’ have all been pretty much the same. Sure, it’s nice to switch off, I’m just saying what happened to all the good movies, now all we’re getting is garbage.

    • Ryan,

      That’s B.S. “Cinema” offers a little bit of something for everyone. If you feel the way you expressed above, it means you’re not looking hard enough.

      Every year “Cinema” release original, though-provoking, rich and daring films – they’re known as “indie movies” and “foreign films,” and few people actually take the time to seek them out in theaters, ON Demand or on DVD.

      • The point I’m making is that yes, there are INDIE films etc, with original plots so why can’t these break out into mainstream? All mainstream is doing now is catering to the braindead audience of the 21st century, who can’t follow a Mission Impossible film because “it’s too complex” but would happily sit down for a carbon copy albeit sans character development, storyline and emotion, nah, we’ll all just watch s*** blowing up!

        • So I’m braindead because I like a movie like “Safe” or “Lockout”, but not like a movie like “2001″?

  4. Nice to see Statham taking a completely different and challenging role

    More comments from Transporter 4 http://bit.ly/Inad2I

    • Thanks for stopping by. Not all actors care to be challenged or seek different roles. What if he just LIKES making action movies? Can no one just do what they like?

  5. “Jason Statham goes to war in ‘Safe’”

    Doesn’t Statham always goes to war? Yeah, this seems like a rental.
    Or, a good substitute if the Avengers is all sold out.

  6. There’s no justification for s***** movies which just copy each other like this to be made. Then again from the studios standpoint they’re just catering for the braindead audience of the 21st Century, who would rather just ‘watch s*** blow up’ than watch a well thought out story with plot, character development and emotion.

    • And I repeat:

      So I’m braindead because I like a movie like “Safe” or “Lockout”, but not like a movie like “2001″?

      • Now I’m agreeing with you too often. :)

  7. @Ryan i think the perfect fix for all this back and fourth would be a reboot by michael bay of shakespear’s hamlet!
    Depth! Character! Stuff a-splodeing!

    • Didn’t Arny already do that in “Last Action Hero”? :-D

  8. I saw this movie in an advanced screening, and I’m not at all a Jason Statham fanboy, I actually think most of his movies are pretty crappy, but this one wasn’t bad. I thought it had a bit more depth than the rest and the ending was more unexpected than the endings of his other movies. The only thing I wish they would have done differently was the little girl. Seriously, I’m not completely superficial or anything, but that must be THE creepiest looking girl in the world…

  9. Statham is the epitomy of badass!

  10. I was wondering something that was done in this film, as well as other films. I am currently taking a college class about film, and this was not covered (so far)or explained. What is it called when filmmakers subtitle the film in only one of the languages? I am always so annoyed when I have to read a film. It is not close-captioning because only sone of the languages are subtitled. What can I look for on a film prior to renting or buying it that would tell me I have to read part of the dialogue? I always thought subtitles meant the whole film was in another language, and the script must be read (unless you so happen to understand that language). Please advise and help me to understand this.