Thursday, September 13, 2012

Safe (2012)

JohnnyTwoToes rues why this Jason Statham's actionfest was too safe for the genre

Jason Statham has had a mixed bag over the years since the first Transporter was released. Since then, he has had a hit and miss career as an action star. His latest one word titled action film is Safe in which he plays Luke, a disgraced cage fighter who also is a *surprise!* humiliated ex cop. 

Ain't that the way? Cage fighter AND ex-cop. Because it is just not enough to have one or the other. You have to have him be both. That way when he kicks EVERYONES ass; cops and bad guys who are one in the same in this film, it tends to have more credence to the story. NOT!! 

Safe was directed by Boaz Yakin, a fine writer and director who did such a fine job on Fresh and Remember The Titans. Here he opts for non-stop action to replace any real character development. Catherine Chan is Mei, a Chinese grammar school student who has a knack for math and remembering numbers. She is kidnapped and sent to New York to help the baddies keep an eye on their money. She knows who is short and who is skimming. She knows who is making money and who is losing money. Thus, the enforcers know whose skulls to crack when people are short on cash. 

Luke (Statham) is a wandering homeless man who has been told by the Russian mob to disappear after he would not take a dive in a cage match. What are the odds that Mei and Luke will meet up and Luke will protect Mei? Yawn. Boaz Yakin has an interesting movie somewhere in here but it is so chock full of action I never really was able to get to know Luke or Mei. You have the Russian mob, the Chinese mob and the corrupt NYPD chasing after this little girl because she has the account safe combination that holds 30 million dollars. 

Don't get me wrong. I love action in films as long as it has purpose. Action for actions sake gets boring as it does here. The film jumps for the first 30 minutes all over the world as it arduously sets up how our two leads will meet. When they do it starts the action which is like watching a video game. 

There are some good lines and the action is competent if nothing else. But when you have great character actors like Chris Sarandon and Robert John Burke as the two main bad guys and they have very little screen time, you are left with a mundane thriller. Why not cut these guys loose and have them chew up the screen with Statham? Safe would have been a lot better film if it did not play it safe. Safe-** out of 4.

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