Reviewed by: Julia Webster
|Featuring:||Jason Statham … Luke Wright
Chris Sarandon … Mayor Tremello
James Hong … Han Jiao
Anson Mount … Alex Rosen
Robert John Burke … Captain Wolf
Reggie Lee … Quan Chang
Catherine Chan … Mei
“She has the code. He is the key.”
I admit it; I’m a big Jason Statham fan. Since his first role in Guy Ritchie’s “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels,” I’ve been drawn to Statham’s muscular, eye-squinting, no-nonsense style. Perhaps that colored my impression of his latest outing: “Safe,” but I found the movie engrossing and action-packed, with a storyline that is believable, for this film genre.
Like his roles in “The Transporter” series, Statham is again cast as the bad-guy hero, helping a young girl escape the clutches of the Chinese mafia in New York City. The girl, Mei (played with precocious style by Catherine Chan), is a brilliant child with a photographic memory. She is being held captive for her numerical abilities, which are being used by a group of Chinese mafia (led by veteran actor James Hong) to extort the profits earned by various businesses operating within Chinatown.
Luke Wright (Statham) is an ex-cop, whose failed attempt at throwing a boxing match for a group of Russian gangsters has resulted in the severe injury of one of his opponents. Following punishment and threats by the Russians, Luke finds himself alone and broke.
Meanwhile, Mei is taken from the Chinese by the same group of Russians, who are attempting to claim a piece of the Chinese gang’s illegal operations by using information Mei has memorized.
Mei manages to escape the Russians and, as she flees, she encounters Luke in a public transit station. Luke, at that moment planning to jump in front of a train, locks eyes with Mei and, seeing her plight, abandons his thoughts of suicide. Feeling the sight of Mei has saved his life, he decides to help her escape from her captors.
Throw into the story some crooked cops and a crooked mayor (aptly portrayed by Chris Sarandon) and the pair finds themselves pursued for the same piece of information by three different sets of gangsters. As they run, Mei cannot tell if she can trust Luke any more than she could the cruel Chinese.
Finally, though, Mei begins to feel safe with Luke, knowing he has saved her. When she asks his reasons for protecting her, Luke tells her she has also saved him. (Though within the story finding salvation by another person is possible, salvation belongs only to God, who sits on His throne in heaven—Revelation 7:10).
Director Boaz Yakin (“Prince of Persia” and “Remember the Titans”) manages to capture Luke’s gritty heroism and Mei’s street smarts and precociousness. The score, written by Mark Mothersbaugh, helps to create tension and excitement for the action sequences. At other times, the music tugs at the heart strings as Luke and Mei’s relationship grows.
Like all action films, “Safe” is filled with non-stop violence, lots of graphic shooting and other killings, harrowing chases, crashing cars, breaking glass, and tons of profanity.
Despite these drawbacks, I would recommend “Safe” to those who enjoy action films and aren’t bothered by the bad language and violence they contain. Certainly young children should not see this film for these same reasons, but most especially because the cruel threats made to Mei by the gangsters are graphic and frightening.
Violence: Heavy to Extreme / Profanity: Heavy to Extreme—“G-damn” (4), “For Christ’s sakes,” “Jesus,” “Jesus Christ,” f-words (13), s-words (11), “hell,” (9), *ss (7), SOB (5), d*mn (2), “d*cks” and “d*ck-heads” (2) / Sex/Nudity: Moderate—scene with hookers
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.