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Safe: Review

Posted 02/05/2012

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Safe
It’s rare to find an action movie that feels fresh instead of formulaic, and ‘Safe’ is that kind of movie. Jason Statham is as bad-ass and bullet-happy as in his usual tough-guy roles, but this time his character has a depth and backstory that adds real urgency to the chase scenes and shootouts. And though we’ve seen the odd-couple buddy action movie before, this time one of the two main characters is a 12-year-old girl: newcomer Catherine Chan, a natural whose nuanced performance is as pivotal to the movie’s success as her character is to the plot.

Statham plays Luke Wright, a cage fighter whose wife is killed by the Russian Mafia when a bout he was supposed to throw goes awry. He’s living on the streets and contemplating suicide when his path crosses that of a 12-year-old girl named Mei (Chan), who’s on the run from those same baddies—plus a Chinese mob and some corrupt cops for good measure. The two form an unlikely team, and Luke sets out to turn the tables on their pursuers while keeping Mei safe.

‘Safe’ is a thoroughly engrossing movie with a complex circuit of plot turns and gritty, inventive action sequences—some shot on the streets and subways of NYC, adding extra color and excitement. Chan is utterly winning as Mei, and even though there’s a child actor involved, the clever, dark-humour-laced script never gets cheesy or melodramatic. In fact, the presence of an innocent little girl ratchets up the intensity of the bloody and violent sequences (and there are many!).

With his deadpan quips and deadly moves, Statham is a born action hero—in a suit, he comes off like a rough-edged James Bond. But ‘Safe’ proves he’s far more than just a master of stunts. Statham has the compelling charisma of a true leading man, and we hope to see him branch out further in future roles.

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