I’m a Jason Statham fan.
Have been since I saw Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
When you go into one of his films, well, anything after the first Transporter movie (an admittedly guilty pleasure series for me), you know exactly what you’re going to get. Statham is the action star of the new century.
He has a look and style that he’s cultivated, nice jackets, a mostly bald head, and stubble. He does almost all his own stunts and is in great shape. He also seems happy with the niche in action films that he’s carved out for himself.
I also think he’d be awesome to go for a pint with, though I don’t think he drinks anymore.
So going into Safe this evening, I knew what I was getting and didn’t expect any more or any less. Which is exactly what I got. The film isn’t great, it’s not terrible by any means, and it will joyfully fill that need for mindless action until The Expendables 2 rolls around in August.
Statham plays Luke Wright who has seen better days, and is definitely on his way out. An ex-cop who is uncomfortable with the things he’s done, he tries to atone in cage fights, where he routinely takes a fall.
Until one fight goes wrong, and he loses everything thanks to the Russian mob who were betting on him to take a dive.
They vow to kill anyone he’s friendly with it forces Luke to move to the edges of society, in exile.
Until Mei (Catherine Chan) comes along. A math prodigy who can remember any number she’s exposed to, this little girl is held by the Chinese mob as a numbers carrier, computers leave too many trails.
When the Russian mob try to make a grab for her to get access to a number she has locked in her mind, New York erupts into a war zone as the Chinese, the Russians and a band of corrupt cops all try to grab her.
Which is when she stumbles into Luke’s life.
Having been pushed to the edge of his existence he feels he has nothing to live for until Mei comes along. And now he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her safe.
There’s a lot I like about this film, the editing at the beginning as we whip around in time, establishing Luke’s and Mei’s backstory is done well, whipping back and forth with quick cuts, all done to give the audience what they need to know but movie the story along as quick as it can – the film clocks in at just over 90 minutes.
This could have been another installment in the Transporter series but for the fact that Frank Martin doesn’t seem to kill as coldly as Luke seems to. Course with all he’s been through I don’t necessarily blame him, and it’s also what his character was trained to do.
I loved seeing Chris Sarandon as the mayor of New York, I still don’t think he works enough.
I also had my little geek moment, when we’re introduced to the head of the Chinese family, played by James Hong. He’s a character actor I always like to see, but will always remember him as Hannibal Chew from Blade Runner, and more importantly, David Lo Pan from Big Trouble In Little China.
The fight sequences are fun, and some, like a fight on the subway, or a dive out a hotel window, elicit empathetic groans of pain from the audience. There’s nothing really new here, but like I said, if you go in knowing what to expect from a Statham action film, you won’t be disappointed.
This happily carry me over until Statham, Stallone, Norris, Willis, Li, Crews, Van Damme, and Schwarzenegger take the big screen in August!
Safe opens nationwide Friday!