I may not have mentioned it, but I have a penchant for action movies. Hell, I’ve seen every Transformers movie despite them being wretched. Michael Bay may not be able to keep a plot together with a hammer and nails but he damn well knows how to blow shit up. When I saw that Jason Statham had a new movie coming out, I knew that I would be heading to the cinema to see it.
Safe is a an action movie in the vein of Man on Fire. Statham plays Luke Wright, a broken man with a dark past. This is nothing new in the action genre but it is a character I enjoy seeing portrayed on the screen. Safe takes a different direction than one would expect for an action movie. Instead of beating you over the head with the action from the very beginning of the movie, you are given a peak into what has brought the two main character to this point. The movie gives a nod to Hitchcock with the true thrust of the movie starting on a subway platform with the chance meeting of our two main characters. Wright, despite being wrapped in despair, spies the frantic flight of eight year old Mei from her pursuers. Instead of following this thread to its violent end, we are taken back in time and introduced to the two protagonists.
Mei is a seven year old mathematical genius in China. She is kidnapped by the Chinese mafia and coerced into being their living computer. We are shown that her mother is deathly ill and that she has no other family on whom she can depend. This is the lever that is used to convince a scared young girl to cooperate. The flashes forward are used to show how they use her gift to keep track of all of the business in New York City and how she is exposed to the nature of the Mafia’s practices. We are also introduced to Luke Wright. We are shown that he is fighting in low-rent MMA bouts though he is easily better than any of the opponents that he faces. His actual job is to put on a good show then throw the bout so that the Russian Mafia can make money betting against him. When he is placed in a bout with someone who should have never been in the ring everything begins to fall apart for Wright. The depth of his descent is illustrated through his various interactions leading up to the strangers on a train scene in the subway.
I really enjoyed how this drop back into the past of the two main characters works. It is an interesting way of delivering exposition as well as providing a stronger connection to both characters. In addition to these departures from the standard action movie formula, I appreciated the strength that was demonstrated by Mei throughout the movie. Instead of a child in constant need of rescue, she seizes opportunities when they are presented without sacrificing that vulnerability inherent in a child out of their depth.
I would certainly recommend checking out a matinee of this movie. You will enjoy it.