Posts Tagged ‘Safe Film Review’

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Over recent years, mainstream cinema has taken a new action hero under its generously proportioned wing. He’s tall, he’s strong, he’s butch, and he’s British.

No, not David Walliams.

It’s East end beefcake, Jason Statham.

Safe Film Jason Statham

“Maybe I shouldn’t have had that burrito for lunch..”

Since his cinematic debut as Bacon in Guy Ritchie’s 1998 smash Lock Stock and Two Smoking barrrels, Statham has become a Hollywood darling, entirely synonymous with high-octane, brutal action. Perhaps it stems back to his role as mute, psycho goal keeper Monk in Mean Machine, who knows? Regardless of its origin, Jason can always been seen in a host of action-packed films, including the Transporter trilogy, Crank one and two, and most recently, and indeed most high profile, the Expendables series. He also voiced Sergeant Waters in the original Call of Duty and Tybalt in Gnomeo and Juliet – how’s that for masculinity!

New release Safe, sees Jason once again performing the role of an aggressively heroic Prince Charming (rather, Prince Harming), devoting his life to the rescue of another. It’s a cinematic archetype that’s worked for him in the past, but is perhaps getting a little tedious now. All three Transporter films situate Statham as a protector, delivering his human ‘packages’ alive and well, no matter what the personal cost. Talk about customer service, it’s Parcel Force meets Apocalyse Now.

Safe Movie Jason Statham

It’s ok Jason, there’ll be another train along in a minute!

His role as Luke Wright in Safe is a tired, Statham-shaped mould, unfortunately rendering the narrative of little significance. We’ve seen it all before:

– victim in trouble  > Statham becomes aware and assumes role of protector > they are attacked consistently > he ensures the victim’s safety –

We can fill in the rest of the story by ourselves. It doesn’t help that the narrative of Safe is treated with such superficiality and speed. Within the first five minutes we are thrust into the separate world’s of Luke and Mei, hastily presented with each of their predicaments (she has been kidnapped because of her knowledge of a secret code / his wife has been killed, because he knocked out a viral YouTube sensation in a cage fight, costing gamblers huge stakes – take that Tay Zonday, yoot bes’ be singin’ ’bout Chocolate PAIN from now on. Getme fam?) Though the film does marginally explore Wright’s ostracism after his battle blunder, there is no evidence of any kind of emotion as to the horrific murder of his pregnant wife. This is perhaps the greatest flaw of Safe; apart from a single moment where he considers suicide, Luke never really relinquishes the tough guy exterior. But hey, perhaps that’s Hollywood’s fault for type casting Statham so much, maybe he just can’t do sensitive?

Safe Film Mei

Cor bliMei…

Furthermore, the viewer is allowed no time whatsoever to sympathise with Jason’s rather staid performance, as the plot progresses far too rapidly. Similarly, Mei’s troubled home life is soon dismissed, instead replacing it with a somewhat absurd narrative regarding her photographic memory and a highly sensitive numerical code. It doesn’t really get any better from there….

For me, Safe was reminiscent of Luc Besson’s incredible thriller Leon, in so far as it depicts a young, vulnerable girl with sensitive information being protected from vast hordes of menacing villains, including crooked cops. Though, to say the film cowers woefully in it’s impressive shadow is a huge understatement. Where Leon details the life of a reclusive hitman Jean Reno, suddenly interrupted by a recently orphaned Natalie Portman, a glistening performance I might add, it manages to deliver a real tenderness. The blurred emotional, even sexual, boundaries between Leon and Matilda are genuinely heart-warming, and the viewer has a huge investment in the films solemn conclusion. With Safe, you just simply don’t care. Yeah you have the general desire for Statham to rise victorious, and for Mei (played by Catherine Chan) to remain unharmed, but there is no real connection to the plot or its characters. And for a storyline centred around survival this is a problem.

Also, the Russian mob boss looks like Lou Carpenter. Not quite Gary Oldman eh?

Safe Film Police

Reservoir dogs they ain’t!

The real trouble with Safe is that Jason’s brand of cockney militance is delightfully watchable. By all reasoned logic I should hate this film… but I don’t. I’ve always found Jason Statham a likeable chap, if somewhat two dimensional. Back since the Transporter I’ve been slightly in awe of him, first getting a glimpse of his ‘got to be photoshopped’ six-pack, which was entirely hidden from view in Lock Stock and Snatch. Moreover, as a huge fan of martial arts, it was particularly exciting to see a British film star begin to make a name for himself in the industry. The Transporter was brilliantly choreographed, with some wonderfully memorable fight scenes (of note, the bike pedal on oil-covered floor – it was like something out of Strictly Come Dancing!) Statham’s now worked with some of the finest names in the action and martial arts industries, including Sly Stallone, Bruce Willis and Jet Li. Go on moi san!

The choreography in Safe has more of a gritty realism than Statham’s usual fight scenes, but is still enjoyable. The scope of his acting however is severely limited, and the only thing less convincing than his accent is his ability to eat a sandwich on screen. The plot is indefensibly poor; but can it be any worse than Crank, a horrendous take on the Speed franchise?

And you thought Cruise Control was bad.

Safe, is just that, ‘safe’. It’s thoroughly watchable, with adrenaline-fuelled action permeating the entire film. You won’t find any intellectual discourses here and certainly won’t be challenged. But isn’t that the level of comfort you expect from a Jason Statham film?

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