out of Five
Running time: 94
Watchable, albeit fairly routine and laughably preposterous, thriller that succeeds thanks to pacey direction, some decent action sequences and a reliably solid, ass-kicking performance from Jason Statham.
What's it all about?
Directed by Boaz Yakin, Safe stars Jason Statham as Luke Wright, an ex-cop turned cage fighter whose wife is murdered by vicious Russian mobsters after he fails to throw a fight. Contemplating suicide by subway train, Luke is distracted by a young Chinese girl (Catherine Chan as Mei) being chased by Russian thugs, so he instantly regains his ass-kicking mojo and rescues her, only to find that she holds a series of important numbers in her head and is being hotly pursued by the Triads (lead by James Hong), the Russians (lead by Sándor Técsy) and his corrupt former colleagues at the NYPD, lead by Captain Wolf (Robert John Burke).
Statham is his usual solidly dependable self as Luke, though he unwisely attempts a half-arsed American accent, which is occasionally distracting. He also has good chemistry with Chan (who's very good) and there's strong support from reliable character actors Burke, Reggie Lee (as Hong's right hand man), Chris Sarandon (as the corrupt Mayor) and Anson Mount as the Mayor's assistant.
Yakin keeps things zipping along at a decent pace, ensuring you're never too far away from a car chase, shoot-out or punch up – there's also a great moment where Statham takes out a thug with a plate, if you like that sort of thing. Similarly, the script throws in enough cheesy wise-cracks to keep things amusing, even if the plot is occasionally laughably preposterous (a late-blooming plot reveal provokes unintentional giggles).
The main problem is that although the set-up seems promising, it eventually becomes nothing more than an excuse to string together a bunch of violent action sequences (so many civilians get mown down in this film that you start to wonder if Yakin has a thing against extras). As a result, the eventual purpose of the number in Mei's head is something of a disappointment and anyway, the script abandons that idea when it turns out Statham isn't too bad at the number-remembering either.
Safe is an enjoyably pacey Jason Statham thriller that delivers handsomely in terms of punch ups, shoot-outs and car chases but falls down slightly in the plot department. Or, to put it another way, better than The Mechanic, but not as good as Crank.