A second-rate cage fighter on the mixed martial arts circuit, Luke Wright lives a numbing life of routine beatings and chump change...until the day he blows a rigged fight. Wanting to make an example of him, the Russian Mafia murders his family and banishes him from his life forever, leaving Luke to wander the streets of New York destitute, haunted by guilt, and tormented by the knowledge that he will always be watched, and anyone he develops a relationship with will also be killed.
But when he witnesses a frightened twelve-year-old Chinese girl, Mei, being pursued by the same gangsters who killed his wife, Luke impulsively jumps to action...and straight into the heart of a deadly high-stakes war. Mei, he discovers, is no ordinary girl, but an orphaned math prodigy forced to work for the Triads as a "counter." He discovers she holds in her memory a priceless numerical code that the Triads, the Russian mob and a corrupt faction of the NYPD will kill for.
Realizing he's the only person Mei can trust, Luke tears a swath through the city's brutal underworld to save an innocent girl's life...and perhaps even redeem his own.
Jason Statham returns in all of his fighting glory with Safe
; a departure of sorts from his previous films as it contains a well-rounded story intermingled with the action audiences have come to expect from a "Statham" film. Taking place in New York, Safe
begins by jumping around the Globe, from Brooklyn to Taipei to Atlantic City in order to set-up the story in the present. The events of the past year are important in order to understand the present, and they are presented in their simplest form to enable the viewer to catch on quickly as to where all of the main characters stand today. In case you are thinking this is unlike an action movie of this sort you are correct in your thinking, the entire first-act of Safe
is pure story, mingled with the occasion bloody mess.
Statham's character Luke Wright is a conundrum when it comes to figuring out exactly what this man does for a living. Early on we learn he moonlights as a cage fighter, and works as a garbage man!? Further on in the plot it is discovered he is an ex-cop, who broke all the rules when he ratted on his partners for taking bribes. The twists associated with Luke's job history do not stop there as they get more tangled and more deadly. Luke's previous professions are inconsequential to start because after he does not throw a fight as was agreed with the Russian Mafia his wife is murdered and he is given the opportunity to live, under one condition: he is to never have contact with another person, ever. Anyone he does will be killed immediately--Luke Wright has been forced into solitude, homelessness, and even worse on the brink of suicide. Until he has a fated meeting with a 12-year-old Chinese girl in a New York City subway tunnel. Mei (Catherine Chan) is a counter for the Chinese Mafia group The Triads, after being taken from her family in China once her gift was discovered by Mafia Boss Han Jiao (James Hong). Now in trouble and on the run from The Triads and the Russian's who want the secret number locked away in her brain she is in need of a savior. Her savior is Luke Wright, and the two will forge a bond of friendship over the course of the film. This all happens of course in the midst of fighting hand-on-hand, with guns blazing, and with a host of stunts performed by Statham's Luke Wright.
takes you on a trip through the underworld, with the Russian Mafia, the Chinese Triad Mafia, and even crooked cops who are far better with their guns than should be allowed. Mei is a young girl but she is not helpless; part of the fun of Safe
is watching her go toe-to-toe with Statham's Wright on the sarcasm front. Mei has personality, even if in the one-sheet for the film she is cowering in the background. The finale showcases her strengths, and the power she knows she holds with her talent for memorization. Statham is his usual character, just a bit more damaged and forelorn; and maybe, just maybe, succeeding in lifting the film up from a merely forgettable B-movie action picture. Safe
has enough action, a bevy of quick-witted sarcastic lines that Statham delivers impeccably--as he always does--and a plot that is actually established and interesting. The ending may go a tad bit towards the incredulous, but this is a Jason Statham film and nothing is ever common--it is all part of the fun.
On a completely unrelated note:
For those wondering, as anyone should and will if you find a Jason Statham moving appealing for the pure joy of objectifying Jason Statham's body, he only takes his shirt off once in the entire film. The scene is brief, and thoroughly disappointing. Just as last year's The Mechanic
neglected to showcase the body of its star, Safe
has done the same thing. It is a good thing then that the film is entertaining, and that Jason Statham throws out enough humorous one-liners to appease a viewer. Even with his clothes on he is a well-suited action hero; but that does not mean the next film he makes should not show some more skin.
See Jason Statham run, jump, kick, punch, twist, shove, beat, plummet, shoot, hit, and every other verb you would use to describe a choreographed action scene. He does them all, just not as much as you may like in Safe. The movie is a little light on the action scenes, but the ones that do exist are exciting and one may even have you applauding at the end--it involves falling off a building and using a body for padding. The greatest part about the action is the dialogue that comes with it, and only in the manner Jason Statham can say something. His sarcastic, tough-guy, no-nonsense demeanor evokes laughter with lines like, "don't lose sleep, he had it coming," or "if you like trees and sh*t." Injecting the action with humorous one-liners makes it more enjoyable, and less about just kicking some guys teeth in or blowing his brains out. Which, by the way, is done, because there is no point in keeping anyone alive in Safe. This movie is not meant for the PG-13 crowd, thankfully.