The idea of a Jason Statham film is often better than thing itself. Statham is one of the few working action stars, and that means he churns out a film or two a year that tend to be low budget with an international cast and setting to better maximize their worldwide value. Safe is easily one of his best films and delivers a solid action movie with a good story and enjoyable action sequences. Our review of Safe on Blu-ray follows after the jump.
Statham stars as Luke Wright, a former cop turned boxer who doesn’t throw a fight, and that costs him his wife. The Russian mob tells him they won’t kill him, but if he gets friendly with anyone at all that person will be dead. Catherine Chan plays Mei, a ten-year-old Chinese girl with a great gift at math. That gift gets her kidnapped and sent to America to work for the Chinese mafia, who use her for bookmaking. She’s asked to memorize a number, which then gets her kidnapped by the Russians, only for her to escape and run into Statham. He was about to kill himself, so she gives him purpose and now he’s up against the two mobs and dirty cops who – when they find out that what she’s memorized is a safe combination – want in on the action as well.
Running a lean 95 minutes, the action sequences are well plotted, but shot with the sort of shaky-cam aesthetic that allows them to be filmed quickly but rarely have the fluidity or brilliance of – say – John Woo at his best. Safe gets by because the hook of the story is great (he can’t be friends with anyone until he meets the little girl, who’s hunted by all), and Statham is given purpose in delivering his beat downs. There’s enough interest in the conflicting bad guys to keep the film moving, and though it doesn’t rival Taken for a stripped down, no-nonsense plot, it comes close.
Statham knows how to play this character, and he does so with the panache that has made him a minor star. He can deliver the blows, but also is a solid actor with a likeable onscreen presence. There’s not much to the film – there shouldn’t be – but like Faster, it manages to play well within the formula and offer enough surprises and a well-orchestrated opening act to keep things compelling. The film came out at the end of April and was virtually dumped, but it’s much better than that send off. It’s a modest gem of a B movie.
Lionsgate’s Blu-ray presents the film in widescreen (2.35:1) and in DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, and it’s a great presentation. The film also comes with a digital copy. The film comes with a director commentary by Boaz Yakin, and he’s smart about the film he’s made. There’s also three negligible featurettes: “Cracking Safe” (12 min.), “Criminal Battleground” (8 min.) and “The Art of the Gunfight” (10 min.).