He reminds me a lot of Bruce Willis, actually, now that I think about it. Maybe it's the baldness but Statham does have a little Bruce in every performance he gives. He's like if John McClaine knew how to kick-box, which would have been admittedly handy for him to know. And like Bruce, I wouldn't be surprised, and indeed I would expect, that Jason Statham is going to go down in film history as one of the all-time greats in the action movie department.
His biggest problem is that his movies aren't stone cold classics like "Die Hard." I mean, they can be good, but I don't think a movie like "Crank," as entertaining as it was, is going to be brought up in 20 years to be placed alongside some of the best of the genre. I could be wrong, and maybe it's just the curmudgeon in me talking, but he needs a "Predator" or a "Terminator" or an "Aliens." He needs something that's going to still be talked about and be influential 20 years from now. Then he'll be set.
Tell me you can't see him saying "If it bleeds...we can kill it."
"Safe" is certainly not going to be remembered in 20 years, nor is it one of Statham's best movies, but it's far from his worst, or even bad. In fact it's an acceptably decent crime thriller that manages to be entertaining and full of enough surprises and overall feeling of "what the crap is going on here" that it never gets boring or dull. It's another Jason Statham vehicle that knows the strengths of its lead, and plays to them. What people came to see is Statham wrecking people like a freight train, and damn it, that's what "Safe" gives you. It's not that complicated.
Well, in actually it is slightly complicated, since the story is twisty-turny enough to force you to occasionally blindly accept what's happening on screen as something that makes sense, even when you have no idea what's going on. It's that same problem all movies involving crime syndicates and crooked cops have - which is that everyone is out to double-cross everyone else, everyone has a hidden agenda, and none of them can talk about it in anything other than confusing "cop talk" that drops names and connections quicker and denser than a neutron star traveling twice the speed of light.
Alright, it's not that bad. I think "The Departed" just traumatized me so much with the "I don't know what's happening" that I'm still suffering PTS syndrome. The setup is that a young Chinese girl, Mei, played by newcomer Catherine Chan, is a math prodigy with a true photographic memory. She is kidnapped by the Chinese mafia and used as a sort of walking calculator/information storage unit. Jason Statham is Luke, a guy with a mysterious but violent past who has run afoul of the mob.
I don't really want to give away much of Statham's past, because that is something that is uncovered as "Safe" progresses, and it's handled in a good way and keeps the narrative moving as more is revealed. I especially don't want to say more since it would give away a very disturbing and powerful scene early in the film which shows what the mafia did to Luke, and why he has to basically become a bum and never be friends with or even talk to anyone. I won't say what exactly it is, but it's messed up.
He's either a bum or auditioning for "Rocky 7."
When Mei is given a long, very important number to memorize, she becomes a target of another mob who tries to capture her. Running away, she is rescued by Luke, who happened to be in the right place at the right time. While keeping her safe, Luke works to bring down both mobs, and the people responsible for his past, using the information in Mei's head.
There's a bit more to it than that, but that's the basic idea. Any more would be giving too much away. And honestly I'm not sure if I could accurately describe the series of events that go down. I'm not too good with the plots of gang related movies. It eventually boils down to "these guys are shooting these guys because why not" with me. It doesn't mean it's bad or stupid. I just suck at following the double-crosses. Besides, everyone in this movie is basically a criminal, so it's near impossible to judge who's a good guy based on their actions.
But who gives a rip about story, am I right? Why care about story when you've got Jason Statham kicking butt? "Safe" does contain the prerequisite amount of Statham soul-punching awesomeness, which is what one would expect. It's just as silly and over-the-top as the standard action movie fare, but the one thing that did strike me as interesting was the occasional sudden out-of-nowhere violence that occurs.
"D' yew know wot dey cool a Quarta Pounda 'n Fronce?" #youtotallyreadthatinhisvoice
There were two occasions that I recall which made me sit back and say "Whoa! Didn't see that one coming." And while it was jarring and on occasion ever so slightly disappointing, it made sense so I can't really be mad at it. I mean, if someone were in a shootout and went around a corner without properly checking it first, then yes, there is a measurable probability that a bad guy he didn't see might come up beside him and shoot him right in the head. That's what happens to one of the "good guys," and you know what? It makes sense. Should have cleared those corners better.
Something out-of-nowhere also happens during the final confrontation, but it still made perfect sense, and made me wonder why you don't see more of that. "That" in this case meaning "characters acting intelligently." It may be a tad anti-climatic, but it's certainly keeping in character. It's actually quite Tarantino.
I wasn't 100% fired up about watching "Safe," but in the end I had a surprisingly good time with it. What I thought was going to be painfully standard and by-the-numbers turned out to be a unexpectedly thoughtful and emotionally carried action film. The last lines of the movie actually got me to say "Awww, that's so sweet," and I was dead serious. It's a very touching moment between Luke and Mei which was heartwarming, and very well acted all around.
And I also got to see Jason Statham stab someone in the neck with a fork. Bon anniversaire.
It's about to get so badass in that bar...
THE BOTTOM LINE - "Safe" is a fun action film with unexpected depth to its characters, which keeps you invested throughout its slightly overly-complex narrative. It's a solid Jason Statham entry, however not one of his best or most entertaining, but fans of his will be pleased. Recommended.