Review: Safe (2012)

Safe (2012)

Directed by: Boaz Yakin | 95 minutes | action, thriller, crime | Actors: Jason Statham, Chris Sarandon, Anson Mount, James Hong, Reggie Lee, Robert John Burke, Oksana Lada, Danny Hoch, Catherine Chan, Victor Pagan, Jay Giannone, Igor Jijikine, Joseph Sikora, Jennifer Butler, Danielle McKee, Brian Anthony Wilson, Jack Gwaltney, Alex Ziwak

There are undoubtedly countless children, teenagers and students who would like to trade places with the young Chinese girl Mei (Catherine Chan). Because of her wonderful brain she doesn’t have to make any effort to store any information and she knows how to remember the most complicated data at a glance. This gift had made school and student days a lot easier for many young people. For Mei, however, this gift turns out to be a burden rather than a blessing as the Chinese mafia learns of her unique brain. They decide to kidnap the girl and bring it to the United States to help with a series of life-threatening jobs.

Once in New York, Mei is given a unique code for a safe by her bosses and must remember it. However, the Russian mafia is also aware of this and they are trying to kidnap Mei. When the girl later manages to escape, she accidentally bumps into Luke Wright (Jason Statham). Luke, a cage fighter by trade, has in turn also become a victim of the Russian mafia, because he accidentally won a match that had been ‘sold’ and which he was supposed to lose. Luke, who is on the run from the mafia, decides to take care of Mei and find out what’s so special about the code the girl has stored in her memory.

The addition of the girl Mei to the action thriller ‘Safe’ feels refreshing and gives a little more depth to the further story. You expect spectacular action from the first second of a film starring Jason Statham, but it still takes a while before ‘Safe’ really gets going. The first scenes even give the impression that Luke is just a bit of a loser. The film uses the first half hour to give you an impression of the character and past of Luke and Mei and the makers work towards the moment when both lives intersect. It is from here that the action, through a scene in the New York subway, finally really starts and never stops. Luke Wright turns out to be more than a failed cage fighter. For fans of Jason Statham, it is certainly a pleasure to see him single-handedly taking on the entire Russian and Chinese mafia. He once again shows that he really is one of the better action actors of the moment and the greatest merit of ‘Safe’ is that they let him have his way and give him the space to display his wide arsenal of (fighting) moves. .

The story itself turns out to be a bit less well put together and the biggest problem is that it regularly jumps from one piece to the next. Many scenes alternate at (too) high speed. Towards the end, quite haphazardly, a large number of new characters are introduced quickly in a very short time. You get the feeling that the makers had forgotten that even more actors had to participate in the film. The lack of interaction between Mei and Luke is also unfortunate: more could have been done with this. You don’t have to expect an emotional bond between the two, as there was between, for example, Dakota Fanning and Denzel Washington in ‘Man on Fire’ (2004). That’s a loss. In addition, it feels somewhat strange from the start that the fairly self-absorbed Luke is risking his life to protect the girl, whom he does not know. ‘Safe’ has certainly not become a winner because of these shortcomings. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s still a nice action thriller.

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