Cast: Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, James Hong
Director: Boaz Yakin
'Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels' and 'Snatch' had given the glimpses of Jason Statham's soft heart hidden inside his tough outlook, but then came 'The Transporter' series, and Statham became clear of his niche audience base. The well controlled affection towards his fans stopped him from breaking out of his comfort zone, and the result is here. Whenever he tries to play a fatherly figure to the small Chinese girl Mei (Catherine Chan), the scene appears corny. Remove his fist fighting from the sequences and you're left with a set up that has nothing new to offer. Statham comes across as wannabe Bruce Willis sans the emotional mileage that the later has in 'Safe'.
Boaz Yakin\'s hesitation of breaking out of stereotypes ruins Safe\'s chances to emerge as a poignant story.
Ex-NYPD cop Luke Wright (Jason Statham) used to work for the mayor (Chris Sarandon) to make the city free from wrong doers (the film reveals it as a well placed hook point), but the rampant corruption in the police department forces Wright to become a deadly cage fighter. Such fights give money but are unable to infuse the life spirit in him. The Russian mafia involved in betting on cage fights kills Luke Wright's wife and places constant surveillance on him as the crime syndicate wants to recover its money via Wright.
The director Boaz Yakin decides to not show Luke Wright's wife on the screen which hampers the emotional quotient of the story. A little more information on Luke Wright's relationship with his wife could have given the audiences better insights into his depression and suicidal tendencies.
The man abandoned by the world gets a lease of life when he accidently meets a Chinese girl Mei who has a photogenic memory and is strategically very important for the Chinese crime syndicate operating in New York. The girl is the only link to a safe containing millions of dollars.
Mei's genius is established through a very manufactured sequence where Chinese mafia godfather Hang Jiao (James Hong) tests her skills with the help of Abacus. Though the screenwriter has cared to give Mei's back story but overacting and director's choice to play with fast cuts don't let the feeling sink in properly.
The nexus between the local police and the mafias manages all sorts of problems for the little girl, but Luke Wright can't let her die.
'Safe' opens at a promising note and Boaz Yakin seems to be exploring the darker side of the ultimate gangland New York, but the fascination for a black suited clinched jawed 'Transporter' Statham takes over the centrestage in no time. There is no attempt to build up an alternate image for Jason Statham.
The film is fast and Jason Statham excels in action sequences and probably this is the reason that the director goes for prolonged fight scenes. Decently choreographed action sequences save the day to some extent.
The cinematographer hasn't hesitated in capturing Statham's emotions in close ups which is surprising because the actor keeps the same facial expression throughout the film.
Showcase of the modus operandi of Russian and Chinese mafia makes 'Safe' an interesting watch. The plotting of characters is as per the requirement of the story but the writer annoys when he tries to justify the title of the film by any means.
The chemistry between the Chinese girl and the hopeless cage fighter is remarkably excellent. Catherine Chan has come up with a good performance. She is the breather amidst all the mindless killing.
Screenplay doesn't provide anyone other than Jason Statham a scope to act. Statham tries too but an already built 'tough guy' image restricts him from being emotional on screen.
Boaz Yakin's hesitation of breaking out of stereotypes ruins Safe's chances to emerge as a poignant story. He has not forgotten his target audience even in a single shot. Yakin has played really safe with the market.
Jason Statham's fans spread across the world will go for their favourite but they possibly won't see anything that they haven't seen before.
Even Jason Statham's charm can't manage more than 2 for this film.
Rating: 2 out of 5.
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What's your reaction to 'Safe'?