Jason Statham is one of those actors who suffers so harshly from typecasting that it would be impossible to take him seriously in a Nicholas Sparks romantic comedy, or Lars von Trier art house indie film that is a metaphor life, the universe and everything. So when Statham was cast in a new action film, from the producer of Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds (which featured heavily in their marketing strategy); I do not exactly expect groundbreaking cinema. Despite my best endeavours to avoid films that Statham stars in, I was still intrigued by Safe; the new release from director Boris Yakin (not-so-fondly remembered from Hostel and Uptown Girls).
Jason Statham stars as Luke Wright: an ex-cop turned cage fighter who makes his living by taking a beating in the ring. Instead of feigning unconsciousness in the second round like his agent had hoped, he fights back and seriously annoys the wrong people. The Russian Mafia, making an example of Wright, murder his family and banish him from his old life resulting in nomadic lifestyle that sees him wandering from one homeless shelter to the next. In another part of New York, a frightened young Chinese girl named Mei (newcomer Catherine Chan) is being pursued by the same gangsters that killed Wright’s wife. With a lengthy number stored in her head, some of the biggest criminals in the city want to keep her alive to get their share of whatever the digits lead to. When Mei unexpectedly saves Wright’s life, he takes it upon himself to protect her no matter what.
Safe delivers fans of Statham’s work exactly what they want: action, bullets and dodgy accents. Although those of you who, like me, aren’t a fan of his work and the accompanying genre are bound to be disappointed. It has the same look and feel of similar films, conforming to terrible stereotypes at the same time (Asians are all good at maths; Russians are all underground gangsters; American are all police are easily bribed). The plot is contrived, character development poor and the climax is terribly predictable. Although I will readily admit I like a mindless action film on a Friday night, Safe was just totally uninspiring.
A tiresomely cliched contribution to the action genre, Safe is certainly not a film I’d recommend. Still, just because it’s not to my liking doesn’t mean that it will be completely devoid of fans: my better half quite enjoyed it, and he often has fantastic taste in movies. All I hope is that I’ll enjoy Jason Statham’s next endeavour, The Expendables 2, more than this; especially if he uses his own accent instead of adopting the terribly ludicrous American one he did for Luke Wright.