In Safe (Lionsgate), mid-budget action movie stalwart Jason Statham plays a former cop turned cage-match fighting burnout who, having run afoul of the Russian mob and his former colleagues in a thoroughly corrupt NYPD, rouses himself back to life as a one-man army top save Chinese math prodigy (Catherine Chan) from what appears to be every criminal element in the city.
And that’s the simple description. While it’s not particularly smart and Jason Statham doesn’t have much range or facility with an American accent, Boaz Yakin’s “Safe” delivers an unexpectedly dense, speedy, tight action thriller that is full of rapid-fire street action, makes great use of Statham’s physical poise, and features a body count big enough to make a dent in the New York City census results.
“As the complications of the script pile up, seemingly needlessly, “Safe” becomes more and more bangingly ludicrous,” confesses MSN film critic Glenn Kenny. “Yakin’s purposefully convoluted scenario also involves an early flashing-backward-and-forward structure that keeps the film from getting on the surest of footings right away.”
But I find most surprisingly is how deftly writer / director Yakin, who made his debut with the smart street drama “Fresh,” creates a dense story woven through with explanatory flashbacks and multiple villains — not one but two rival mobs plus the a special NYPD hit squad — criss-crossing and colliding while chasing our runaway human computer and her self-appointed bodyguard across the streets and through the subways of New York.