Vintage Statham delivers some fun action and golden one-liners.
Jason Statham is arguably the best pure action star working at the moment, and so when more and more vehicles come along for the leading man we tend to know what to expect. Safe is vintage Statham – a succession of fight scenes and great one-liners, and is exactly what we wanted to see. Despite treading mostly familiar ground, Safe is an accomplished film in its own right, bringing a little extra to the usual story, a little more grounded in reality that its predecessors, but never losing that tongue-in-cheek attitude that marks out some of the finest modern action movies.
Safe employs a relatively slow-burning build-up, introducing us to Luke Wright (Statham), a hard-as-nails cage fighter who gets on the wrong side of the mob. Following their violent retribution, Wright is a broken man, depressed and suicidal, before crossing paths with a young girl (Catherine Chan), a genius with the criminal world on her tail, desperate to gain the valuable code she has memorised. Stepping in to save the youngster, Wright finds a new lease of life, manipulating various gangs and dirty cops in an effort to save the girl. This initially slow pace gives the first act its driving force – the audience can’t wait to see Statham lose it and dish out the punishment.
When it comes, it is typically explosive. The hand-to-hand combat scenes are brutal and violent as you would expect, with a crunching feeling to each encounter. There are one or two slightly pedestrian shootouts hidden amongst this, but with some seriously inventive fight scenes punctuating the story, these can be forgiven.
The strangest thing about Safe is Statham’s vocal performance. Attempting a thick New York accent, it never really works, with the gruff “Laahndan” delivery - always a part of the Stath’s charm - sadly discarded here. It seems a bizarre choice to employ such an uncomfortably fitting accent for the lead role, but as the film wears on it takes on an oddly amusing tone, and doesn’t come close to derailing the fun. In a way, the delivery actually makes the one liners- some of the best we’ve heard in a while – all the funnier.
Classic Statham, yes, but a lot closer in tone to the gritty Blitz than the outrageous Crank, director Boaz Yakin wrings a lot of fun from the story, with the leading man in fine form. This is unlikely to win over any non-fans, but anybody who enjoys seeing Statham serving up brutal action with a dash of wit won’t be disappointed here.