Safe (2012) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

Jason Statham is an ex-cop and current cage fighter who assumes protection of a young Chinese girl from corrupt cops and two warring factions of mobsters. The child is a math prodigy and is capable of computing numbers instantly, the Chinese mafia sees great value in the girl, she is expendable and leaves no paper trail. The Russians want the girl for her exclusive knowledge of the intricate working of Chinatown payoffs.

After dispensing a Russian mafia henchmen on a crowed subway train, Statham calmly reassures the onlookers ,”don’t lose any sleep, he had it coming”. It is the type of one-line started by Eastwood and perfected in the heyday of Schwarzenegger. In fact the entire movie plays like a relic from an earlier time, it isn’t afraid to showcase a cold man doing violent things in an ever increasingly ugly society.

There is a running motif in writer/director Boaz Yakin’s work of featuring a young child, typically intellectually superior to the adults in their environment, navigating the complicated world of crime in New York. As in the singular titled Fresh, Yakin has made another wonderful discovery in child actor Catherine Chan. This is not a stereotypically ‘cute’ movie kid, Chan looks like a ‘normal’ child and her line readings flow in a natural manner. Quvenzhané Wallis Is getting an enormous amount of publicity for her Oscar nominated role in Beasts of the Southern Wild. For my money Chan’s performance in Safe is just as remarkable. As a director, Yakin makes some interesting choices visually, often shooting into mirrors and using reflections to tell story or sell the action.

Safe is an enjoyably diverting 100 minutes, that is sure to please undemanding fans and is ideal for mindless Saturday afternoons. Statham brings so much physical conviction to his roles that during the action scenes it’s a marvel someone doesn’t actually get hurt. In the ever increasing film library of Statham’s work, Safe ranks high with the likes of The Bank Job and The Mechanic.

Director: Boaz Yakin
Stars: Jason Statham, Chris Sarandon, James Hong

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