Written and Directed: Boaz Yakin Starring: Jason Statham, Catherine Chan and Chris Sarandon
Chinese Triads use Mei (Catherine Chan) a young savant with a photographic mathematically brilliant mind to memorize their operations and codes so that they don't have a paper trail. Mei memorizes a priceless numerical code and becomes a target for the Russian mob and corrupt NYC cops. Coming to her aid is an ex-cage fighter Luke (Jason Statham), with a secret past, whose life was destroyed by the gangsters on Mei's trail.
Writer/Boaz Yoakin sprints towards every conceivable plot device and shoot-em-up caricature in this crime war house of cards that it feels as though he compiled it from a brainstorming session facilitated by a bunch of 15yr old high school kids designing a video game. All the characters, even the leads Mei (Chan) and Luke (Statham), struggle to be any more than a compilation of divergent motivations to infuse mindless brutality and execution. The dialogue is terrible; Statham's lines feel like they've been retrieved from lines that were discarded by Arnie, Sly, JCVD, Chuck Norris and Steven Segal because they were too cheesy. Catherine Chan, who is clearly fluent in English, is forced to speak worse English (which is still surprisingly better than Statham's) in order to convince the audience that she's a Beijing native.
Jason Statham at his best, can be a funny and charming actor (see Snatch and Lock Stock) and solid action star (The Transporter) at worst (case in point Safe) he's a scowling meat head that generates laughs from his delivery of cheesy lines and how much damage he doesn't sustain, despite single handedly taking on the Russian Mob, Crooked Cops and Chinese Triads (all of whom have arsenals the size of a small army). Catherine Chan does her best to gain the audience's empathy and portrays Mei as a courageous little girl. Unfortunately with Yakin's guidance in moments that she could/should be more emotional - she's unmoved by the violence to the point that she looks bored, or asleep with her eyes open.
When I watch a movie like Safe I have to wonder whether Yakin's had some kind of comedic genius, succeeding where films like Machete, Planet Terror and Hobo with a Shotgun have failed - being so appalling with such a straight face and sustaining it for 90 minutes, so-to speak. But then I realize that it would take vastly more awareness than the writer of Dusk Til Dawn: Texas Blood Money, Dirty Dancing 2, The Punisher (the one with Dolph Lundgren) would be able to conjure.
Safe is so ham-fistedly BAD on every conceivable level that it bordered on entertaining.
Blake Howard - follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman
Safe was released in Australia on the 3rd of May 2012, in the U.S.A on the 27th of April 2012.
Blake Howard is a writer, a podcaster, the editor-in-chief & co-founder of Australian film blog Graffiti With Punctuation. Beginning his criticism APPRENTICESHIP as co-host of That Movie Show 2UE, Blake is now a member of the prestigious Online Film Critic Society, sways the Tomato Meter with Rotten Tomatoes approved reviews. See his articulated words and shrieks (mostly) here at Graffitiwithpunctuation.com and with DarkHorizons.com & 2SER Sydney weekly on Gaggle of Geeks.