Safe (2012)

Director: Boaz Yakin
Writer: Boaz Yakin
Cast: Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, Robert John Burke, James Hong, Anson Mount, Chris Sarandon

11 year old Mei (Catherine Chan) has a special talent with numbers and an eidetic memory. Because of that she’s kidnapped by Han Jiao (James Hong) who uses her as an untraceable computer for his business in New York. One day, Mei is first kidnapped by the Russian mob, but then manages to escape and fate throws her together with Luke (Jason Statham), a run-down ex-boxer who sees his own salvation in Mei.

There’s nothing quite like a movie with Jason Statham for when I need my action fix. It doesn’t always work, but when it does, it’s glorious. Safe works in all respects but one: there’s too much gun-fighting and not enough fist-fighting. Other than that, it is extremely enjoyable.

I don’t mind gun-fights in general. They can be exciting and they can be stunning, but more often than not, it’s rather boring to watch people shoot each other and/or ducking and covering behind something. It’s way cooler to watch nicely choreographed hand-to-hand combat. This film does have these hand-to-hand moments (that fight in the subway, for example, was pretty damn cool) and it does even have nice gunfighting moments (like in the Russian mob restaurant) but put altogether there was just a little too much shooting and not enough beating for my taste.

Nevertheless, I enjoy the Stat in action, with or without guns (and best without clothes which, sadly, doesn’t  happen in this film) and the one character he usually plays and that also works very well here.

It’s best not to think too much about the plot, though, which doesn’t make that much sense. Surprisingly, though, Mei and her relationship with Luke is something that deserves thinking about. In many things their dynamic reminded me of the relationship Newt and Ripley have in Aliens. Luke respects what Mei has been through and what she’s capable of. From the beginning, he doesn’t treat her as a child (in fact, when he tries – like when he turns off the TV in the hotel room while she’s watching cartoons – she ignores him completely). When they’re in a tough spot, he gives her tips on how to handle herself but he doesn’t really act for her.

And Mei has no problem with that. In fact, she demands that treatment and is able to handle it. Luke is the one who latches on to her because he needs her. She sees the advantages in Luke’s protection, but the real need is on his side. I thought that was a really interesting (though it also falls a bit into the recently mentioned male mentor/female hero dynamic).

Anyhoo, dissecting that made the whole thing even better for me, but even without that, I just really enjoyed the film. It’s fun.

Summarising: If you’re in the mood for action, you could do way worse than this film.


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