What’s it About?
Mei, a young girl whose memory holds a priceless numerical code, finds herself pursued by the Triads, the Russian mob, and corrupt NYC cops.
Directed by Boaz Yakin
7 out of 10
“Safe” is a capable and harmless action film that centralizes and concentrates on the ‘relationship during danger” angle. It is routine and predictable and it never promises to be the next, big, “bad guys chasing the good guys” movie but it works in a self deprecating way. It has some flair, heart and even a decent turn in by Jason Statham (Ghosts of Mars).
It’s easy to follow and provides some awesome action and a helluva lot of gun-play. So much so I felt like I was watching an early John Woo film but without all the slo – mo. The non-complicated story (which has plot holes the size of Manhattan sink holes) is a generic throwaway and we couldn’t really be bothered with it when it’s Statham as a down on his luck MMA cage fighter we want to see kick some ass. So between Statham and the heavies in this piece we are given just what we are looking for.
Statham provides a pretty decent performance as a Cage fighter named Luke who had his family killed by the Russian mob after he blows a fight that was rigged. He is low, destitute and bounces around from homeless shelter to homeless shelter. He even helps other downtrodden people like a random guy that has no shoes and is given a pair from Luke who spares them after showing him some mercy. So right away we are witness to a wronged man who is homeless but has a heart of gold and a tragic past.
It is here that we find out that Luke is capable of being very humane and when he comes across a young Chinese girl who is on the run from not only her captors (She is literally kidnapped from the streets in China and given to a guy who is her “Uncle”) but from those opposing the triad. Which means by now the corrupt cops, the russian mob and her captors are after her.
She is a “Counter.” A kind of math prodigy that the triads use for gain. She is mistreated, neglected and alone. So of course as she makes her escape after one of the many insanely loud and brutal shootouts. She is seen in a Manhattan subway platform and of course runs into Luke. Luke notices that the thugs that are tailing her are familiars of his and then he jumps into action.
It is more than generous to admit that the action is rather good and it’s raw and violent. There are car crashes, near misses and there is even a poor sap that gets run over not once but twice! The gun play (my favorite parts of the movie) are well choreographed and one stand out shootout involves a whole hotel restaurant filled with fleeing and hysterical patrons. An action scene worthy of Richard Donner himself. Director Boaz Yakin (Remember the Titans) lets Chen and Statham have some fun.
Between the fights, bullets and mayhem they do connect and start to form a bond. Luke doesn’t take too well to becoming paternal and when we get a peek into his soft spot for her we get yanked away into another huge fray. I don’t care though because “Safe” is not a character study nor is it Shakespeare but it is a quick and fun ride through the streets, alleys and subways of Nueva York. Dekalb and Canal streets anyone?
So after the mayhem and the satisfying climax things get a bit quiet. “Safe” is a decent action vehicle for Statham and as for the talented Chen (who must be like the biggest kid in danger in all of North America) she makes very good use of her acting chops for one her age. She plays terrifically against Statham. Don’t be fooled, it is never sappy or heavy handed and Statham never backs down from a fight here at all. It is by the numbers and it is predictable but as a film with a minimal amount of heart surrounded by insane action that just about puts you into the ionosphere the film delivers what I had mentioned before. Pretty harmless fun. Enjoy.