We’ve all seen the trailers for Statham’s new action vehicle, and have pretty much summed it up before it’s release. You either like his flics…. or you don’t. I unfortunately, for the most part don’t. I personally find the majority of his films are simply over the top, silly as shit actioneers, but every once in awhile he does something worth watching.
Director Boaz Yakin (Remember the Titans) brings us Safe, a film that has Statham taking down an entire city of corruption. From a direction standpoint, Yakin gets it right most of the time, following the action and handling tight fight scenes with ease. Unfortunately, Yakin looses potential emotional content as the relationship between Statham and the little girl is overshadowed by the flying fists, stripping the story of any real depth.
Mei, a young girl whose memory holds a priceless numerical code, finds herself pursued by the Triads, the Russian mob, and corrupt NYC cops. Coming to her aid is an ex-cage fighter whose life was destroyed by the gangsters on Mei’s trail. They will stop at nothing to regain custody of the child or worst case scenario, kill her to prevent the codes from getting out.
Performances are only slightly better than most Statham films, where Statham is the best you can expect in the cast. That being said, the acting is serviceable and will get you to the end without too much complaint. Catherine Chan does an exemplary job as Mei, considering this is her introductory role. Actually, the stronger performances in the film come from the key Asian cast with Reggie Lee and James Hong leading the pack. I can’t help but to think of Big Trouble in Little China lines every time I see James Hong get angry on screen… kinda makes me smile. The weakest links overall come from the American cast with some bad dialogue and simple logic issues (I don’t want to ruin it for ya), but that’s probably on the writer… oh, I forgot, the director is the writer. Fortunately, nothing is glaring enough to hurt the pace and jeopardize the action. True Statham fans won’t even catch it. Oh, and the last fight of the film is actually one of the most original and unexpected end fights I’ve seen in a long time… a total breath of fresh air, and I totally loved it!
One of the other problems with the film lies in the opening exposition. The film, in my opinion takes too long to set up the characters. Some would say it was necessary, but most of it felt like padding to me and could have been broken up and revealed along the way, putting more emphasis on the bond between Statham and the little girl. It takes a good half hour to get to the action sequences. Once there, you’re on the ride, but getting there can be a little bit of a chore.
Bottom line, I liked Safe. It’s probably one of Statham’s best films since the original Transporter. If you like your popcorn action films, Safe will fit the bill. It’s got some great fight sequences, but suffers from predictable plot lines and a slow start. There’s nothing really new here, but its fun nonetheless!