Tuesday, 13 September 2016

STATHAM HITS: Safe (2012)

Sadly, this the end. I already wrote a review of this movie, but it was really short. Time to give Safe its due.

This is the most legit action movie Jason Statham has ever made. I love his other movies, but this is the one time where Statham attaches himself to a project without a hint of irony or silliness.

Not to say its a work of art. Evocative of the action flicks Eastwood and Bronson used to churn out in the seventies, Safe is a hard bitten, brutal action picture that manages to give Statham an interesting character to play, some sweet action and lashings of pitch black humour.

Statham plays Luke Wright, a homeless man whose life was destroyed by the mob. Tormented to the point of insanity, he wanders the city streets, completely detached from the world around him.

Mei (Catherine Chan) is a young girl with a photographic memory. She is the prisoner of triad boss Han Jiao (James Hong). Distrustful of computers, he uses the young girl as a human ledger. Sick of her life, Mei tries to escape and runs into Luke.

As word of her escape spreads through the city, various criminal groups descend on the pair, all determined to gain the knowledge in Mei's head.

Propulsive and extremely violent, Safe is a really fun ride that finds interesting ways to play with action movie conventions while never feeling cliche or hackneyed. This kind of premise has been done to death -- Statham kinda already did this with the Transporter movies -- but writer-director Boaz Yakin manages to squeeze every drop of originality out of it as he can.

Yakin is an inconsistent talent (he's most famous for Remember the Titans), but he earns his strips with this movie. And Statham, who is not exactly known for his versatility, is fantastic as the broken Luke. While he can still kick ass, this is a man who is dead inside, and Statham manages to make his redemption believable. Once again, this is an arc we've seen a million times before, but Statham actually manages to make the cliche feel, if not fresh, at least alive.

There are a lot of nice surprises in Safe, so I won't spoil them.

Sadly, the movie bombed on release, but it is worth checking out for one of Statham's strongest showcases. Since Safe, Statham has continued to churn out a movie or two a year, but he has yet to come up with a vehicle as solid as this one.

Here's hoping the success of Spy and Furious 7 give the Stath a better slate of projects, because as a film like Safe proves, with the right material he can be a compelling lead.

Previous reviews

The Transporter (2002)

Transporter 2 (2005)

Crank (2006)

Death Race (2008)

Crank 2: High Voltage (2009)

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