12-year-old Mei (Catherine Chan) is a maths genius
12-year-old Mei (Catherine Chan) is a maths
genius with a photographic memory. A human computer, she’s kidnapped from her school in
mainland China by old-school crime boss Han (James Hong) who, this being a Jason
Statham movie, doesn’t trust computers and ships her off to the Big Apple
to keep the books for the local Triads.
There she’s made to memorise a numeric code which will allow access to a
vault full of cash. But the
Russian mob and some dodgy cops are after the code and, during a violent shootout,
into the subway by the Russkies, she encounters suicidal, homeless ex-cage
fighter Luke Wright (Jason Statham)
who’s just about to throw himself in front of a train but takes time out to
save Mei from the Russian gangsters who, coincidentally killed his pregnant
wife and ruined his life. One
breathless, brutal hand-to-hand battle on a packed subway train later, Luke’s
found a new purpose in life; keeping Mei safe. And he’ll kick a lot
of bad guy ass to do it. Luckily,
the whole city seems to be out to get them, providing Luke with plenty of
possible exception of lesbian clown porn, is there a guiltier pleasure than a
Jason Statham movie? You know
you’re going to get exactly what you want; well-choreographed
ultra-violence. With its
blisteringly good fight scenes, an adrenalised, high-octane car chase or two
and some tense shootouts, Safe is no
exception and, with a tough guy quip and a manly twinkle, Statham delivers the
goods, his biggest enemy not the battalion of bad guys (Triads, Russian Mob,
dirty cops, corrupt politicians, etc.) he faces but logic and subtlety. Fear not however, Statham dispatches
them too, cheerfully knocking seven shades out of them.
Safe is gleefully, nastily, over the top fun, with
a disregard for the safety of innocent bystanders that’s frankly
jaw-dropping. Recycling the plot
of 1998’s Mercury Rising,
writer/director Boaz Yakin’s script
doesn’t even appear to be on nodding acquaintance with anything approaching
sense. But it doesn’t have to
be. You’re not watching Safe for the intricate, Swiss-watch
precision of its script, the delicate character shading, the nuanced
performances…you’re watching Safe
because you want to see Statham kick people in the face. Which he does. A lot.
may just be the perfect action star.
Charismatic and funny, he swaggers through the film immune to bullets,
knives and fists, pausing every so often to deliver a terse, hard-bitten
one-liner or a hilariously over-the-top threat, telling one gangster: “I’m
going to do things to your son that’ll make me ashamed to look in the
mirror.” His relationship with the
young Chan is sweet and it’s good for once to see an imperiled child who isn’t
sickeningly cute or totally helpless.
Chan’s Mei is one tough little fortune cookie in her own right and you
get the impression that even if Luke hadn’t blundered along, she’d have managed
to save herself just fine. They’re
ably supported by scenery-chewing turns from Robert John Burke as a corrupt cop and Chris Sarandon as a venal Guiliani-esque Mayor.
night viewing of the highest order, Safe
is a fast, furious action flick that gives you plenty of bang for your buck
and if it’s a fun night’s viewing you’re looking for it really is up there with
lesbian clown porn. Except, you
know, you can watch it in a cinema full of people.