Safe is the latest in what seems to be a career of interchangeable action films from Jason Statham, the modern descendant of Jean-Claude Van Damme or Dolph Lundgren. Statham used to be a decent character actor when he was working with Guy Ritchie, now he crashes in, drops a pithy line, kicks ass, and drives off.
He does that in Safe, wherein he plays an underground cage fighter trying to protect a young Chinese girl (Catherine Chan) from Russian gangsters, illegitimate Chinese businessmen, and crooked New York cops. Sample line from the film: “You’ll be squeezed between us [the Russians] and the Chinese. A war on two fronts, like Hitler.” The girl is the MacGuffin because she has a photographic memory and has been given a code that everyone wants to get their hands on.
This is a solid B-movie; the action is competent, the body count ridiculously high, and it even manages an occasional burst of cleverness with regards to fight choreography. These include a car shootout entirely from the point of view of a character in the car, and Statham utilizing dinner plates as deadly weapons. The plot is also very straightforward, hitting all of the expected beats at the right moments.
Safe is exactly what its title portends: a safe action movie. It doesn’t aim too high, but hits the mark well-enough. Save it for a rainy weekend on HBO.
Safe opens today in Philly-area theaters.