Wednesday, May 02, 2012

SAFE - Typical Statham Schtick

SAFE (crime thriller)
Cast: Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, Chris Sarandon, Robert John Burke, Reggie Lee, Danny Hoch and James Hong
Director: Boaz Yakin
Screenplay: Boaz Yakin 
Time: 94 mins
Rating:  *  *  1/2 (out of 4)

PREAMBLE: This is a typical Jason Statham (left) movie and it is safe to expect all that is expected of Statham's films. Over the years, Statham has built a somewhat stereotyped persona that is like an M&M candy - hard on the outside but soft and sweet inside. His character invariably has a soft spot for kids and this is what makes people root for the anti-hero that he usually plays.

Writer-director Boaz Yakin (who wrote The Punisher (1989) and The Rookie (1990) is mindful of this and makes no attempt to stretch Statham's acting range.

Catherine Chan and Statham

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Basically, it is about Luke Wright (Statham), a New Jersey ex-cop and cage fighter who contemplates suicide but finds a new reason to live when he rescues a 12-year-old Chinese girl named Mei (Catherine Chan). Mei, a wizard with numbers, is forced to work for the Chinese triads. When Luke finds her at the subway, she is fleeing the clutches of the Chinese and Russian mobs.
Statham (left) tackles another foe

HITS & MISSES: The first few minutes of the film, which inter-cut between introductory scenes of Luke and Mei, are rather intriguing. We try to predict how the two will meet and how they are connected with each other. This forms the better part of the film. However, the plot soon gets too ridiculous for us to even contemplate it. From here on it is the usual popcorn stuff: a shoot-em-up thriller that involves a bunch of crooked cops, the Russian and Chinese underworld members trying to get their hands on the combination to a safe.

The premise, written and directed by Boaz Yakin, is simple: other than Luke and Mei, all the others involved are vicious baddies and they deserve to be shot. An interesting subplot about Luke's connection with the Russian mafia is explored in the beginning and then forgotten in the shoot-out sequences. He also has a history with the bunch of corrupt cops but this is just mentioned in passing. For Yakin, it looks like there should not be anything getting in the way of the bloody mayhem that he has created.

THE LOWDOWN: Should be a satisfying treat for Statham fans.


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