Action Movie Fanatix Review: Safe

She Has The Code.  He Is The Key.

Starring: Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, Robert John Burke, James Hong, Reggie Lee

Director: Boaz Yakin

2012  |  94 Minutes  |  Rated R

“You got bad information.  I never collected garbage, I disposed of it.” – Luke Wright

I had heard that Safe may be Jason Statham’s best movie yet.  That is a tall task as I’ve loved just about everything he has been in (I try to forget In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale).

Luke Wright (Jason Statham) is a former cop who was forced out of the force after he ratted out some dirty cops.  Since then he has become an MMA can (essentially a punching bag) even though he is an extremely skilled martial artist.  Mei (Catherine Chan) is a young Chinese girl who has memorized a number that is very important to the Chinese gangsters.  When Mei escapes a group of Russian gangsters she encounters Luke.  Together they are chased by Mei’s original captors, The Triads, as well as the Russians and a group of corrupt NYC cops from Luke’s past.

Sound like Mercury Rising?  Yeah, it kinda is.  But, I suppose, if you are going to copy a story idea then you might as well copy something that is original.  How many times have we seen a Die Hard scenario in a movie?  The Mercury Rising scenario (that is what I am calling it now) hasn’t been used anywhere near as much as the Die Hard scenario.

The story and characters are all well developed.  Mei was a really interesting little girl.  She wasn’t just a random object that our hero had to protect, unlike so many horrible GTA missions.  Mei proves that she is more than just a nerdy little Asian girl.  She has built up a tough outer shell over the past year with the gang.  She often spouts sassy little statements at Luke but most importantly you feel for her the entire time.  She just seems so innocent and sweet even with this shell that she has built up.

Jason Statham’s character, Luke Wright, is also very interesting and complex.  He is a former cop who stood up and did the right thing only to have it completely backfire on him.  From that point his whole life seemed to go down hill to the point where he is

The villains are varied but mostly forgettable.  There is a group of random Russians but none of them really stood out.  There is a group of dirty cops.  There is much more to their story but overall they just make up another group of people that are after Luke and Mei.  The one villain that does really stand out is Reggie Lee’s Quan Chang who refers to himself as Mei’s father but truly just uses her for her crazy numerical memory.  The point where he points a gun in Mei’s face to attempt to keep her from getting into the Russians’ hands seals the deal.  This guy’s gotta die.

The fights in Safe are awesome.  They are completely different that anything I can remember Jason Statham doing in any of his previous roles.  Much more realistic.  Much more entertaining, really.  He doesn’t do any of the crazy wirework or limb wrapping that he became known for in the Transporter series and I am so glad to see the change.  Everything is done in a way to feel like it could actually happen in a real fight.

There are also a couple shorter driving scenes which were really intense.  I wouldn’t really call them chase scenes because there was never enough time for a big chase but these scenes were definitely some of the most exciting of the film.

The gunfights are really the best part of Safe’s action though.  Statham often integrates the gunfights right in with his martial arts.  It is all very gritty and up close and personal.  He’s using guys as human shields and then twisting their arm around to shoot their gun and blow away their buddies.

Oh, and the final fight between Luke and Alex is awesome and ends with a completely unexpected surprise.

I am not sure I would call Safe Jason Statham’s best ever but it has to be right up there.  It has everything going for it save for a true chase scene.  It’s an easy recommendation to any action / Jason Statham fans.