Review: Safe

21 Jun 12

Stathe plays it safe in, er, 'Safe'...

If you like the rapidly expanding action-flick subgenre that is the Jason Statham movie, then you're safe with, er, 'Safe.' Writer / Director Boaz Yakin is less of a safe bet. His writing credits include such overblown yawnfests as 'Prince of Persia,' and 'Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights,' and his directing credits include 'Fresh' and 'Remember the Titans' - so who knows what to expect? What you get is surprisingly fast, fun and leave-your-brain-behind entertainment in a macho, sub-'Die Hard,' Jason Statham kinda way. The Stathe finds himself protecting a young mathematically gifted Chinese girl from the Triads, Russian Mafia and corrupt New York cops; and must fend off baddies from all three whilst finding time to make cheese-baked wisecracks worthy of Roger Moore's Bond. To accuse 'Safe' of being predictable formulaic fare is like accusing margarine of being easier to spread than a block of butter straight out of the fridge, but where 'Safe' excels is in cracking cinematography by Stefan Czapsky (who shot Tim Burton's 'Ed Wood', 'Batman Returns,' and 'Edward Scissorhands') and hyper-kinetic editing by Frederic Thoraval (editor of 'Taken' and 'District 13.') I haven't seen editing this fast and furious and desperate to call attention to itself since Tony Scott's 'Domino.' One chase/escape scene in a car recalls the all-in-one-take action style of the excellent 'Children of Men,' as the Statham knocks a stuntman down with the front of his car and we watch from inside as the poor chap rolls over and his limp body appears in the rearview mirror. So, for film fans, the transitions are a joy to behold and the whole movie whizzes along with a dynamism reminiscent of that other entertaining (if bonkers) Statham actioner, 'Crank' - only 'Safe' doesn't play it as much for laughs. All in all? It's typical Statham fare. Don't go expecting anything too deep. You'll find no well-rounded characters or political insight here. This ain't philosophy. It's car chases, gunfights and martial arts - shot with style and edited with panache. Safe to say, 'Safe' will keep Statham fans of Jason vehicles such as 'Transporter,' Transporter 2' and the imaginatively titled, um, 'Transporter 3' happy; action audiences entertained and cineastes scratching their goatees as to what all the fuss is about... Three solid action-packed, rippling torso, mighty biceped stars.