Directed by Boaz Yakin.
Starring Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, Chris Sarandon, Robert John Burke, James Hong and Reggie Lee.
After his family are murdered by Russian gangsters, an ex-cop and second-rate cage fighter rescues a young girl whose memory contains a secret code worth millions and has to fight to keep her from the clutches of the mob, corrupt NYPD officers and Chinese Triads.
The all-out action movie is dead, we all know this. The Mission: Impossible, Bond and Bourne series are spy films, the Transformers series is based on a cartoon and toy series, and the Fast and Furious series is… an anomaly. Gone are the days when cops chased drug dealers and everything went BOOM along the way, and I for one miss that. I would, however, prefer action films never to be made again rather than seeing B-movie output in the shape of Safe taking over the mantle.
That’s not to say that Safe is a terrible film because it does have its merits in 2012. The action is loud, violent and frequent and it doesn’t rely on CGI to entice its audience, mainly because writer/director Boaz Yakin has attempted to make an ‘old school’ action film and doesn’t have the budget to do much else. The budget is so (relatively) small that he goes out of his way to show as much of New York as he can and some of the locations are there just to see the skyline before we cut away to somewhere much cheaper to film (e.g. Philadelphia). Still, a filmmaker must do the best with what he can and Yakin does a decent job throughout, with barely a shaky-cam in sight, which came as a big and welcome surprise.
The real issue here is the complete lack of originality and the dreadful sense of having seen it all before and done so much better. Why even bother make a film like Safe for theatrical release when it looks like it belongs on Video On Demand? The film is nothing more than a violent TV movie and Jason Statham simply does not have the charisma of a Willis, Gibson, Stallone or Schwarzenegger to make the audience believe in him and the ridiculous on-screen antics. He tries hard but is never convincing, which is a shame because if you were to put Bruce Willis in this film, tighten the story, and clean up some of the atrocious dialogue, you might have something. I still believe a good leading man makes all the difference in action films, and Statham is not that man. He may have his place amongst a certain audience, but he and his films have yet to convince me.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★