Body Count: 350
Bullet Budget: $1,000,000
Jason Statham’s Steely Glare: Priceless
In “Safe,” the gravelly-voiced Statham digs deep into his bag of tricks to play Luke Wright, Statham Character #2. That’s the “loner with a past who must protect a youthful innocent.” (As opposed to Statham Character #1 in which he plays “loner with a past who must protect a loved one.”) The innocent in this case is an eleven-year-old prodigy named Mei (Catherine Chan) who has been kidnapped by a Chinese Triad boss (James Hong) who hopes to use her photographic memory to store sensitive information. Of course this makes her valuable to the Russian mob, who try and snatch her away to unlock the secrets in her pretty little head. Enter Luke, a coiled spring of a man who has nothing to live for until he meets the girl genius.
The first half hour of “Safe” consists of choppy set-up—plot, character exposition and backstory. It’s clunky and strangely Statham-less. Then at the thirty-minute mark Statham comes to life—he may be down-on-his-luck, but you know the body count is about to go way up. All of a sudden he becomes a one-liner-spouting action hero and “Safe” becomes the dumb good fun we expect from Statham’s movies.
There’s lots of good old fashioned fist fights, some awesome cheeseball backstory info delivered with gusto by Chris Sarandon and corrupt cops. Unfortunately there’s also young Mei. It cannot be a coincidence that Mei’s character name is only one letter away from the word meh. She delivers one of the worst child mastermind performances in recent years.
Luckily she’s playing opposite Statham who covers the screen with his own brand of awesome.
“Safe” isn’t for everyone, but Statham fans will find something to like.