Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Safe (2012)

Image: Momentum Pictures

While we count ourselves as Jason Statham fans, it’s been a while since he last headlined a decent film. The Mechanic? Blitz? The Killer Elite? All disappointments. But when he’s on form he’s capable of providing some seriously entertaining action escapism, and we went in with fingers firmly crossed. Were we disappointed? Actually, no.

After failing to take a dive in an MMA fight, Luke Wright (Statham) is punished by the Russian mob. Anyone he gets close to, dies. Meanwhile, a young Chinese girl (Catherine Chan) is given a long number to memorise by the triads. But the Russian mob and the dirty NYPD are after it too, and she’s soon on the run from a city full of bad men. Luckily, she runs into Luke, who finds a reason to live again: protecting her.

We honestly weren’t expecting Safe to be this entertaining. But the film is funny, totally aware of its B-movie status, and the action sequences are often very impressive. It’s a film in which no one can be trusted apart from our hero. The corruption goes all the way to City Hall, the cops are double-crossing the mobsters who are paying them off as well as each other, and anyone who gets in the way of Jason Statham is beaten to death or shot repeatedly.

For non-action fans, there’s not a lot to recommend as it’s basically a breathless race from punch-up to punch-up, interspersed with scenes with dialogue so ripe it’s impossible to know whether to sneer or grin. It’s a reaction we felt for a good proportion of the first twenty-odd minutes, but by the time Statham decides that saving the girl is the only option, then it’s pretty much grins all the way.

The action is very well-choreographed. Statham can usually be relied on for good hand-to-hand fight sequences, but these are the most impressive we’ve seen him perform in a while. Outside of the action, well, things are a little shakier. We’ve said that the film’s aware of its B-movie status, but there are times when credulity is stretched beyond breaking point, and the dialogue is often beyond terrible. The performances are also a bit shaky, though Reggie Lee (Drag Me to Hell) and veterans Robert John Burke (Limitless, The Unbelievable Truth), James Hong (Blade Runner) and Chris Sarandon (Fright Night) all ham it up nicely.

But good lord it’s a lot of fun. If you’re a Statham fan and if, like us, you’ve been disappointed by his recent outings, Safe is the Jason Statham movie you’ve been waiting for.

Statham on top form in a film that utilises his talents well and has a ludicrous script to match. A very entertaining B-movie.

3.5/5

JH

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