Jason Statham is no stranger to the mess of pulp found inside his latest redemptive mission, Safe. Written and directed by Boaz Yakin (Remember the Titans), the rock’em, sock’em movie plays for eye-catching wit and the absolute crushing of skulls. You see, Statham usually leaves a few people standing in his wheelhouse of cinema. Not here. Everyone dies, gets brained, or has a bone broken as Yakin dusts off the well-worn chaps of the action film genre and gives us quite a brutal and enjoyable ride to remember after the credits have rolled.
Mei (Catherine Chan) is an 11-year-old whiz kid when it comes to math and numbers and remembering patterns. When it comes to avoiding Chinese and Russian mobsters, she’s not so smooth. Kidnapped from China because the mobsters refuse to put their trust in computers, Mei finds herself on the run in America. She’s unable to trust anyone – including the crooked cops.
Enter cage fighter Luke Wright (Statham). For years, he’s been the punching bag. When a fight goes bad – we’re talking one hit and the opponent is down for the count – Wilson finds himself on the wanted end of the Russian mobster hit list. Of course, he’s also well-known by the crooked police department that spends a couple of moments taking the piss out of him for reasons not spoiled here.
Safe is what happens when Luke meets Mei.
Yakin tears up the action genre with a deft eye for quick jabs and steely punches. The choreography is sharp and smooth, still there’s a brazen brawn to the badass spectacle of Statham spraypainting the streets of Manhattan with carnage. Yakin’s camera is what confirms this film as an agreeable outing, though. Some of the work has to be seen to be believed. His is a new and fresh “voice” for the genre. His camera is fluid and sets up great sequences – some static – that pay off with vocal responses from the audience. One sequence – a shot (from inside the car) of a henchman getting run over twice by Statham – gets a couple of well-earned laughs and a guaranteed round of applause.
Statham is in a fight for survival with Safe. His protection of Mei is sweet and quick-witted and recalls his work in the Transporter films. What’s exciting is how his lone wolf character is revealed to be anything but what he seems to be. The reasons for the behavior – even the protection of the child protégée – are explained inside a tightly paced 95 minutes.
Safe isn’t for everyone. It’s pretty violent and full of bystander casualties, but it does offer some great moments of Statham dishing out deliverance for grimacing baddies like some demented bull in a china shop. If you’re a Statham fan, you’ll love it. If you’re a fan of the old-school action genre, you will be entertained by its preposterous use of testosterone and flying kicks.
While the script is lighter than air and not so franchise friendly, Safe plays it anything but its namesake and we are all the more entertained as a result.
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence throughout, and for language.
Runtime: 95 mins.
Director: Boaz Yakin
Writer: Boaz Yakin
Cast: Jason Stratham; Catherine Chan; Robert John Burke; James Hong
Genre: Action | Crime
Tagline: She has the code. He is the key.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I can memorize anything"
Official Site: www.safethefilm.com
Release Date: April 27, 2012
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: September 4, 2012.
Synopsis: Sometimes a chance meeting can save your life.
Mei (Catherine Chan) is a 10 year-old Chinese math prodigy who is abducted from her home in Nanjing by the Triads; she is sent to America by the Triad Leader Han Jiao (James Hong), where she will serve as a "counter" for their extortion racquets. No computers, no paper trails - she keeps all the numbers in her head. One year later Mei's new adopted "father" Chang (Reggie Lee) brings her along to count the numbers as he shakes-down his business operations.
Luke Wright (Jason Statham) is a second rate cage fighter in the mixed martial arts circuit in New Jersey. When he blows a rigged fight, the Russian mafia make an example of him - murdering his wife and threatening to kill anyone he forms any kind of friendship or relationship with. Now homeless, destitute and completely isolated from society, Luke wanders the streets of New York like a ghost, hovering on the edge of suicide.
Big things begin to stir in the city, when Triad boss Han Jiao appears in New York, and gives Mei a secret number to memorize; on her way to use this number for an unknown purpose, Mei is violently kidnapped from the Triads by the Russian Mafia, who want the information she now has in her head— as does the corrupt Captain Wolf (Robert John Burke) of the NYPD. Mei manages to escape, but she won't be able to survive on her own for long.
Standing on a subway platform ready to throw himself under a train, Luke Wright sees the young and terrified Chinese girl being pursued by Russian thugs... he knows something is wrong, and he knows now he has to make a decision: continue on his downward spiral, or come back fighting in order to help a little girl he's never even met. Luke comes back to life, forcing himself into violent action, and over the course of one harrowing night he tears a swath through the city's underworld in order to save Mei's life and redeem his own. Hide Trailer Details.
Available on Blu-ray - September 4, 2012
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); Digital copy (as download)
Playback: Region A
Safe’s 1080p/AVC High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen is very impressive. Fine detail is excellent throughout, with skin textures and nuanced wider shots bringing home the bacon – all without the need for any excessive DNR application. A gritty filmic look is maintained through hefty application of intentional picture noise and the oversaturated palette also brings its own style. Colors are vibrant and vivid – with a steely blue cast to most of the picture. Contrast suffers a bit during the low-level-lighting and night-time sequences where shadow detail is reduced. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 audio track is an audiophile’s dream come true. All channels are engaged in a truly immersive listening experience with heavy lows and nice highs. The dynamic use of sound packs a nice punch for your home theater system.
- Well, this is cool. In what goes down as a very humble approach to the commentary, writer/director Boaz Yakin walks viewers through the production identifying the classic action films that he borrowed stunts from. His informative commentary also covers character motivation and plot depth. It’s far from what the standard commentary is and should be a bonus for fans of the movie.
The first supplemental item, The Making of Safe, covers the making of the movie and features the director talking about what the action genre and Statham discussing the different style the director brought to the project. It’s fairly standard and not that interesting as most of the information features scenes from the movie. The next one, Cracking Safe, is interesting at it features the director, its star and other filmmakers discussing the action genre as an art form. Criminal Background takes viewers on a tour of its New York locations. Finally, The Art of the Gunfight looks specifically at the fight sequences and the choreography done with Statham. Nothing too impressive here; Safe plays it safe…
- The Making of ‘Safe’ (4 min)
- Cracking ‘Safe’ (12 min)
- Criminal Background (8 min)
- The Art of the Gunfight (10 min)