Director: Boaz Yakin
Cast: Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, Chris Sarandon, Robert John Burke
Running Time: 94 minutes
Safe is very much that. The story follows Jason Statham, taking on a role that Chuck Norris would have happily filled out in the ’80s, an ex-policeman-turned-cage fighter who finds himself entangled in a gang war between Russian and Asian stereotypes on the streets of New York. The rival gangs are fighting for possession of a little Asian girl who has memorised a sequence of numbers that’s of the utmost importance to both gangs. The plot is overly complicated and really doesn’t warrant deep scrutiny or thought. In fact, for the sake of enjoyment, it’s better to disregard it entirely. Safe is a brainless action film and it knows it. It doesn’t try to crowbar in emotional moments or dramatic beats.
The direction of the film is fast, quick and brutal – very much reminiscent of John McTiernan films from the 1990s. There’s little or no time given to allow a full story to develop or even to empathise with or understand the characters in Safe. The speed of the film is such that you get a brief picture of each character, their motivations, and then it’s on to the next action scene. This is the film’s true strength and Boaz Yakin knows it. Statham wouldn’t be able to sustain a dramatic, dialogue-driven sequence. Instead, he’s a flurry of movement and one-liners – firing and punching like it’s going out of fashion. The dialogue throughout Safe is riddled with cliches and the brief moments of respite are handled poorly. The relationship that develops between Statham and the little Asian girl (Catherine Chan) is cursory at best. Safe is a daft actioner, that if approached with low expectations, can be slightly enjoyable.