When do you get to see a movie that has both the Chinese Mafia and the Russian Mafia? Safe has both groups and it may be the first time that I've ever seen it. Seeing as they're both included and the movie also has an R rating, you should expect to see a large amount of violence and action right?
Luke Wright (Jason Statham) is a mixed martial artist that not exactly successful at his profession. One night he runs into some trouble with the Russian Mafia when he accidentally wins a rigged fight. Wanting their revenge, the mafia murders his wife and threatens to kill anyone else that ever associates with him. This leaves Luke completely alone and broke as he is now homeless, friendless and with no money. He lives this life with virtually no human contact until he witnesses a young girl (Catherine Chan) who appears to be on the run from some gangsters that he recognizes. Not knowing who she is or why they want her, he decides to risk his own life by trying to save hers.
You probably know what to expect from a movie like Safe. It's a "by the numbers" action flick that doesn't try to be different in the least bit. Using a formula that's familiar is not always a problem for me as long as the makers of the movie deliver something that's entertaining. That's what I was hoping for with this movie.
There are some decent action scenes, but there's nothing spectacular or even memorable. Many of the scenes contained some erratic camera work and it didn't always allow you to see all of what was going on. It was somewhat similar to the camera work in The Hunger Games. I'm guessing that this technique is being utilized to make the violence in these scenes appear faster and more hectic, but I think you can also say it's done to hide the simplicity (and sometimes crappiness) of the action that's being shown.
I certainly hope that this style doesn't catch on anymore than it has, because it sucks. You're hurting the film and one of its primary selling points when you use this technique during fight scenes and shootouts. People want to actually be able to see the action and some of the fun and entertainment value is being hindered when you can't see what's going on in these situations.
One of the other primary flaws of Safe is that there's a complete lack of quality outside of the action. Nothing in these non-action scenes allowed me to develop a substantial amount of interest in what's taking place. They could have used this time to build on the stories and the people who drive them. Doing so would have created a better chance at connecting to the characters, so when you hear about their life stories you might actually care a little bit.
I don't want to keep complaining about the negatives in this movie, but I have to talk about some of the acting. I'm not going to name names, but some of the actors in Safe need to double down on the acting lessons. I've never really seen most of these other guys in the movie and based on some of their performances, I understand why. Some of them were just bad and others were simply overacting. As far as Jason Statham is concerned, he does what he usually does and plays the same guy that he plays in most of the movies that he appears in. That can be good or bad depending on if you like Statham or not.
Safe is an action movie with average action at best and below average everything else. If you're going to make a movie rated R, you might as well go all out and show more of the gratuitous violence that's actually in the movie. You can do that and help your own cause by not using the shaky cam during fight scenes and shootouts.
If for some reason you feel that you absolutely need to watch a movie about a little Asian girl being kidnapped, I would suggest watching The Man from Nowhere. It's an award-winning South Korean film that is better than this movie in pretty much every way imaginable. Even if you exclude the fact that there better movies out there with the same premise, there just aren't too many reasons to watch Safe. I can understand if you're a fan of Jason Statham and you might want to check it out, but even then, there are other movies from him that are simply better than this.
Director: Boaz Yakin
Robert John Burke
Film Length: 95 minutes
Release Date: April 27, 2012
Distributor: Lionsgate Films