Safe came out in the early summer and came and went at the box office without much fanfare. Jason Statham is one of these guys who can star in a bunch of movies that not that many people notice, but his name holds some sway almost entirely on the strength of The Transporter movies. Does anybody remember mediocre crap like War that co-starred Jet Li? Or even the shockingly good Killer Elite with Clive Own and Robert De Nero? His releases do not command the attention of those starring Stallone or Schwarzenegger when they were in their prime, but The Statham is seen as their equal if his inclusion as co-main eventer with Stallone in the Expendables movies is any indicator. Safe is worth a look for not just because it’s yet another solid Statham movie, but because it contains a metric ton of Statham-ness in an almost nonstop orgy of violence that approaches the likes of The Raid just by sheer bloody volume.
Statham in Luke Wright, a former MMA fighter who raises the ire of the Russian Mafia when he fails to take a dive in a fight where massive amounts of money was being bet against him. His punishment? He is essentially blackballed from having a normal life. Anybody he becomes close to, heck anybody he even speaks to, will be killed at the hands of his tormentors. An elaborate and cruel punishment to be sure, leaving Wright to be a homeless person roaming the streets. Things change when he crosses paths with a young Chinese girl named Mei. She has a special aptitude for mathematics which caused her to be taken away from her family and shipped to the States to help the Triad keep their accounts in order. After being given a long sequence of numbers to remember, an attempt is made by the Russians to kidnap this poor girl but she eventually ends up in the reluctant hands of our hero. So it turns out that Luke Wright isn’t just an MMA fighter, he was previously part of a special police unit who he was personally selected for. Why? Why not. He only ended up fighting MMA because he snitched on the rest of the unit who became incredibly corrupt (even though they all still have jobs) In fact, Luke Wright is the most dangerous man in the entire world apparently and with the Triad, the Russian Mob AND crooked cops coming for him with a young girl in tow he’s going to have to kill a whole lot of people.
This film has a convoluted storyline about what the number sequences mean, who they were for, who is involved, who double-crosses who etc. It’s all a bit much, I actually lost track of how many different cars The Statham was driving around in such is the breakneck speed at which this film moves. What’s going on in the plot is extremely secondary to the action and for the speed director Boaz Yakin (Remember the Titans) jumps from plot point to crazy plot point, he’s dashing from action scene to action scene ten times as fast. If you love seeing Jason Statham kick ass and kill people you are going to be thrilled because: Statham kills everybody all of the time. He is this amalgamation of every ambiguous badass hero with a shadowy past rolled into one unstoppable killing machine. He rolls up to a place and within 30 seconds he’s shooting everybody who even breathes in his direction. In what it takes most other action stars to reload he’s already shot another 20 people. He is a unstoppable runaway freight train of death and even better, the scenes are staged well, easy to follow and varied. I’m a sucker for wrestling moves being used outside of pro wrestling and The Statham won me when he German Suplexed a guy through a dining table. Classic
Safe isn’t going to win any awards except perhaps its impressive deathtoll, but damned if it doesn’t give us everything we want to see in a Jason Statham movie. Death, death and more death and a silly storyline that never slows down the bullet-fast pace.