Rating: 2.5/5 (Two-and-a-half stars)
Star Cast: Jason Statham, Robert John Burke, Chris Sarandon, Anson Mount, James Hong, Reggie Lee.
What’s Good: The action sequences; the interesting progression of the screenplay.
What’s Bad: The preposterous story; the unanswered questions.
Verdict: Safe is a safe bet if you want to watch a Jason Statham action movie.
Safe is about a former New York city cop who is about to commit suicide when a young girl ‘saves’ him. Then, he makes saving the girl his life’s mission.
Mei (Catherine Chan) is a young Chinese girl who is very good with numbers. She is forcefully brought to New York by a gang of Chinese criminals who want to keep their accounts out of computers, which can leave a trail. So Mei, whose sick mother is back in China, spends about a year with her foster father, criminal Quan Chang (Reggie Lee), who oversees the New York operations on behalf of his gang leader, Uncle Han (James Hong). In New York crime world, the Chinese, the Russians and the police are all playing hide-and-seek with each other all the time.
One day, in a secret operation, Mei is given a very long string of numbers to memorise. She is being taken to a location to memorise another string of numbers, when the Russians attack Chang’s cavalcade and take Mei away. The Russian gang lord, Emile Docheski (Sándor Técsy), and his son, Vassily (Joseph Sikora), try very hard to get Mei to tell them the number, but she does not relent. Soon, the police arrive on the scene. The police chief negotiates with both, the Russians and the Chinese, for the best price he can get for Mei. Taking advantage of the commotion, Mei makes an escape.
Luke Wright (Jason Statham), who is contemplating suicide by jumping on the metro tracks, happens to see a scared Mei wandering about on the platform. He sees that she is being chased by the Russians. In a moment, he gives up his suicide plans and runs after Mei.
Now, Luke Wright, a former cop, has been hounded by both, the police and the Russians. The Russians murdered his wife and forced him to live the life of a homeless man by killing anyone who comes in contact with him. The corrupt police humiliate him for his honest ways, pushing him to suicide. But, when, at the station, Luke sees young Mei, someone being hunted just like him, he makes it his mission to save her and find out the mystery behind the numbers.
What happens then? Is Luke able to save Mei? What do the numbers, which Mei has memorized, lead to? What about the Chinese, the Russians and the corrupt police, who are all interested in Mei? The rest of the film answers all these questions.
Safe Review: Script Analysis
Boaz Yakin’s story is interesting and his screenplay, which depicts the various machinations between the New York gangs and the police, makes for an entertaining watch. Although Luke’s apparent reluctance to fight against his oppressors in the beginning might make the audience wonder if the reason attributed for the same is convincing enough, once he begins to fight, they do not care as the fight scenes are entertaining enough. Mei and Luke’s relationship, based on a little bit of mutual understanding, intrigues the audience. Another thing which works for the film is the manner in which various aspects of Luke’s real identity are revealed, one after the other. The action scenes are very well done and hold the viewer’s attention. The dialogues are functional.
What doesn’t work is the fact that the whole premise of the story seems preposterous when you get to know all the facts. Several questions arise in the audience’s mind, as a result. Why does Luke not hit back at the police when is being humiliated in the first place, when is mighty capable of doing the same? Why does Luke not expose the corruption and the nexus between the police and the gangs, when it is later revealed, that he is fully in know of the facts? These and several other questions have to be overlooked if one is to enjoy the drama. Not an easy task for all viewers.
Safe Review: Star Performances
Jason Statham is very good as the leading man. As usual, he is excellent in the action sequences. Catherine Chan, as Mei, is natural. Robert John Burke (as Captain Wolf) is villainous to a fault. Chris Sarandon (as Mayor Tramello) does an alright job. Anson Mount (as Alex) shines in a small role. James Hong (as Uncle Han) and Reggie Lee (as Quan Chang) are good as the Chinese gangsters. Sándor Técsy (as Emile Docheski) and Joseph Sikora (as Vassily Docheski) fill the bill. Danny Hoch, Matt O’Toole and others provide average support.
Safe Review: Direction & Technical Aspects
Director Boaz Yakin makes the narrative fast paced and manages to keep the audience’s interest levels high. Background score, by Mark Mothersbaugh, is alright. Stefan Czapsky’s cinematography is functional. Production design, by Joseph Nemec III, is alright. Action Choreography, by Chad Stahelski, is very good. Editing, by Frederic Thoraval, is sharp.
Safe Review: The Last Word
On the whole, Safe is an entertaining fare primarily because of the action sequences.