Movie Review: Safe

Right, I had planned to be sitting down today to write a review of the Avengers movie, however due to a massive faff down at the cinema by the time I got to the front of the queue I had 3 minutes before the next showing and felt that I needed a bit of a break from the obnoxious kids about the place and a cup of coffee as I was feeling hot and bothered.

Here’s 2 things that occured to me while I was in this ridiculously long queue-

  1. If you’re in a big group of people and there’s a massive queue snaking behind you, I think you should have to pay all together. The minor irritation for you having to sort out the change is definitely better than slowing down everyone else and taking out 3 different tills instead of 1.
  2. They need to change the queuing system at cinemas. There should be some way that you can overtake people if you want an earlier showing. I was in the queue and realised that Avengers was going to be overcrowded and this would probably effect my enjoyment when I noticed another movie I quite wanted to see, Safe, was due to start. Under my proposed system I could’ve ducked out, got a ticket and been in the cinema, but as was, I was stuck behind folks who wanted to get into the cinema after me. Ah, well.

I ended up going to see Safe anyway, catching a later showing because as I said, due to the frustration of the queue I needed a break or I wouldn’t be in the right frame of mind to see a movie. Avengers will have to wait until later this week.

Anyway, meandering opening over, on with the review:

Safe follows down-on-his-luck former cagefighter, garbage man and general badass Luke Wright (Jason Statham), who wins a fight he was meant to lose and winds up annoying the Russian mob, who off his wife and tell him that they’re going to leave him alive, but anyone he befriends will pay dearly. This is quite a nice twist on the mob going after someone plot, and illustrated when they whack some poor homeless guy who Wright gives his trainers to.

Its revealed that Wright was also a former cop, who turned in some corrupt colleagues who are none to happy, and attack him, attempting to goad him into killing himself, which is what the Russians kind of want to happen. But Wright won’t do it.

When he does wind up standing on a train platform contemplating ending it all, salvation appears in the form of a young Chinese girl, Mei (Catherine Chan) who is being pursued by some thugs. It turns out Mei is a mathematical genius with a photographic memory, and has been working for the Chinese mob, who use her to keep track of their business, thus avoiding a paper trail.

Mei has been given a long number which she has memorised and is told there will be a second number to learn as well. However, after she is given the first number she’s grabbed by the Russians. She escapes but is followed, at which point Luke steps in to save the day and starts looking after her.

They realise the number is the combination to a safe, but with the Chinese, Russians and corrupt cops after them, can Luke and Mei survive and discover what’s in the safe?

First of all, I should say that this kind of movie won’t be to everyone’s taste, but as a massive fan of action movies and Jason Statham in particular (he’s very high on the man crush list), I thoroughly enjoyed this flick.

The plot is fairly simple, and you realise early on that Luke Wright’s back story isn’t entirely true, with revelations coming over the course of the flick that explain why Luke’s a one man army. And let’s face it as soon as they say he’s a “garbage man” you kind of know that’s going to turn out to be a euphemism.

Statham taking out the trash.

Statham is superb in the lead role, he conveys the fact that Wright is a broken man extremely well, and does the tough guy thing better than most. He delivers some cracking lines and due to his physicality definitely convinces as being some kind of force of nature. He kicks, punches and shoots his way across New York in a thoroughly enjoyable way.

The thing that sets Statham apart from a lot of action heroes is that he’s incredibly charismatic, with a roguish, wolfish grin and a nice line in sarcasm he’s throughly engaging and likable. I mean, even selling chocolates the guy is just awesome:

He also plays the part wonderfully, never overplaying his scenes with Mei, where you get the feeling other films might have lurched into sentimentality, here they’re largely handled well, and Statham maintains his toughness even in these scenes.

He convinces as the emotionally destroyed Wright at the start and we fully understand why the character would spring into action to defend a stranger.

There’s a relentless pace to it once it gets going and the fight sequences have a gritty quality where you wince at every bone crunching blow or vicious take down.

The opening prologue which cuts between Luke and Mei’s backstory is done really well, explaining the two characters’ past and setting up why their two lives might intersect.

Like I said the plot is quite simple, but there are nice touches along the way. Particularly the fact that the dodgy mayor, played Chris Sarandon, says that there’s only one man in New York who could take Luke out and when this person is revealed its quite a nice swerve in the story, with someone you wouldn’t suspect actually emerging to be a credible, realistic threat to Statham.

There are also some cracking action sequences, including a sensational raid on a Chinese mob-run casino/night club/fortress where Wright teams up with the corrupt cops he used to work with. Explaining that he has the combination so they have to keep him alive he then calmly walks through the club, not even going for his gun until quite a way in. Statham striding casually through the club as a firefight ensues is an extremely badass moment.

Wright and his “bodyguards”

The central relationship between Luke and Mei is done fairly well, and other than at the film’s ending manages to stay just the right side of being too sweet. They bicker and Luke’s quite tough on her at times, but you get the impression there is warmth and that Mei slowly realises that unlike everyone else Luke isn’t trying to use her, and is properly looking after her.

Just the right side of being too sweet- Chan and Statham

In her first role, Chan is very good as Mei, conveying the character’s suspicion of everyone and being tight a tough little kid. She handles the scenes with Statham extremely well, and its nice that despite being very much a kid she does exhibit a certain cold streak that is inevitable given the fact she’s been raised by the mob.

The supporting cast all do sterling work. The corrupt cops are an unlikable bunch, but Robert John Burke as their leader, Wolf is quite badass and his lowkey performance works well with Statham’s.

Also, there’s the Russian mob boss’ son played by Joseph Sikora, who is sleazy and psychotic, and who from his first appearance is due a Statham sized boot to his ass.

But the best is the ever reliable James Hong as the head of the Chinese mob. Hong is one of those faces who crops up all over the place, and the role of a dodgy Chinese mobster is hardly a stretch for him, but he does it so well. His boss is oddly charismatic, while also having this real aura of menace around him.

The Legend that is James Hong

All in all, a frantic, enjoyable action flick.

Verdict: Statham is on fine form in a fairly generic action movie, which due to his charisma and some nice touches manages to be thoroughly enjoyable. A fast paced, engaging gem. 7/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO

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One Comment on “Movie Review: Safe”

  1. […] The Kit Kat ads? Lock, Stock…?, who knows when it started but its kept going […]


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