Jason Statham makes a lot of garbage. All of his films are pretty much the same, except for Crank. Crank is awesome. And thatís because it commits to its zaniness and energy. Besides Crank, and I guess, The Bank Job, which doesnít even feel like a Jason Statham movie, everything else heís done since his Guy Ritchie days is the exact same damn picture. Statham always plays a deceptively flexible tough guy who has to kick butt for the good of those who canít. The problem is, Safe didnít have to be that kind of picture. It starts off with a pretty great premise, but quickly devolves into your typical guns a-blazing, ass-kicking Statham flick. Itís sad, too. This could have been a winner.
The story involves an Asian girl with a photographic memory and a keen sense of remembering long strings of numbers. This puts her in a lot of danger, as seemingly everybody in New York wants her. Why? Because sheís memorized a lengthy code to a safe containing 30 million dollars. Thatís a pretty cool plot.
Even cooler, though, is how well Statham handles his character, who has a secret past that gets more and more ludicrous the further the movie chugs along. In the first half hour, however, you really start to feel for Stathamís character. In a key scene--which may just be the best Statham has ever acted--you get a glimpse that he could be a damn good actor if heíd just get away from all these mindless kaboom movies. In this scene, he returns home to find somebody he loves murdered by the Russian mafia. Instead of swinging his arms and legs around and kicking everybody's butt, he gets down on his knees and tells the killers to shoot him as a single tear slides down his face. It's a pretty intense scene and shows a great deal of gravitas from an actor who never so much as made me believe that he even had tears in him in other films. In that way, I feel that Statham doesn't have to be such a macho actor to get ahead anymore. He could be the thinking manís action hero, kind of like Matt Damon when he was making the Bourne movies. The guy can really act. Just watch him shed some tears.
But thatís early on in the film, and about forty minutes in, you get the sense that itís not going to continue on that same path. The moment Statham begins roaming the city, beating the shit out of Russian mob members, Chinese gangsters, and corrupt cops, you know youíre just watching a slightly altered version of The Transporter 4. And by the time Statham first gets his hand on a gun, it all goes to hell. The movie you thought you were enjoying was just a sham.
Still, if you like that sort of thing, then youíll probably like this movie. It has all the elements of the kind of dumb action movies that Statham has gravitated toward for years. There's a whole lot of hitting and punching, a car chase scene (definitely reminiscent of The Transporter), and guns being fired, but, unless you count the acting at the beginning, thereís nothing that will interest anybody who prefers real substance with their ratatat. Personally, Iíve grown sick of it. Itís getting old. This is your typical Statham picture, and nothing more than that. Come on, Statham, realize your potential!
The special features donít do anything to help this picture. Thereís a commentary on here from the writer/director, Boaz Yakin, and itís interesting early on (much like the movie itself), as Yakin talks about how he was going for an impressionistic tone when making the film. Bu,t by the time Statham starts shooting things, the director rambles on about the actors and explosions. Itís not interesting in the slightest. I mean, how many times can you talk about your influences in the 70s and 80s action films? It gets old after the first time. I donít need to hear it repeated four or five more times.
The rest of the special features are a bit of a joke. Cracking the Safe,
Still, the commentary, for what itís worth early on, is worth a listen, especially if you like these kinds of mindless movies. But the other features arenít worth the disc theyíre printed on. Pass unless you loved the film.
Reviewed By: Rich Knight
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