Boaz Yakin’s “Safe” is high-octane silliness, a movie whose individual parts are greater than their sum.
The plot, in a script Yakin wrote, pulls in strands of everything from cage fighting to the Russian mob. And then it sets Jason Statham loose in a world where he is the bowling ball and almost everyone else is a pin.
Let’s see if we can summarize: Statham plays Luke, first seen as a mixed-martial arts combatant who wins a match he’s supposed to throw. That pisses off the Russian mob, which had fixed the fight and had a lot of money riding on it. So they murder his wife and, instead of killing him, vow that they will kill anyone with whom Luke makes any sort of emotional connection.
Meanwhile, we also are tracking Mei (Catherine Chan), a sort of prepubescent human computer. She’s made the ward of a Chinese crime boss (James Hong), taken to the U.S. and employed as the records-keeper for his crime operation in New York’s Chinatown.
But she escapes and Luke (who is on the verge of suicide) rescues her. So it’s up to Luke to take on the Russian mob, the Chinese mob and, for good measure, a squad of corrupt New York cops. Oh yeah – and Luke is an ex-cop. Just in case this wasn’t silly enough already.
Logic? We don’t need no stinkin’ logic – not when Statham is around to bust out the mayhem at the blink of an eye. And honestly – there’s no one more dynamic or compelling when he gets physical than Statham. I’ve compared him to Steve McQueen in the past: cool, quiet, explosive. The comparison still stands.
And, to be sure, the action scenes – including close-quarters hand-to-hand on a New York subway – are pretty spectacular. Because, honestly, you don’t go to a movie like this for edification; you go for the thrills.
There are plenty of those in “Safe.” Leave your brain at the door and you’ll have a good time.