Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

Since Jason Statham movies have essentially become their own sub-genre, you should pretty much know what to expect from Safe. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing mind you, as the former athlete and all-round growly geezer is often capable of elevating straight-to-DVD material into watchable territory through sheer presence alone.

After cage-fighter and former black-ops cop Luke Wright (Statham) decides not to throw a rigged fight, the Russian Mafia murders his family and threatens to keep him under surveillance for the rest of his life. Wandering the streets years later on the verge of suicide, he witnesses a twelve-year-old Chinese girl (Catherine Chan) being pursued by the same gangsters and takes it upon himself to protect her. Discovering that the girl is actually a maths genius who has memorised a priceless numerical code, Wright finds himself caught up between the Russians, the triads, bent coppers and the mayor…

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Despite not living up to the early promise, which suggests we're in line for a gritty, bleak and above-average effort, we soon shift into reliable head-kicking mode where the basic plot of Bruce Willis’ ’98 vehicle Mercury Rising is infused with Stath-style quips, loud gun battles and a bloody huge body count.

Happily, writer/director Boaz Yakin offers some surprisingly stylish camera work during the crunching action scenes and JS mumbles out a few one-liners worthy of Schwarzenegger himself (the one about restaurants and lead is pure Eighties Arnold). But before long, the plotting descends into sketchy territory (why does Luke defiantly tell the cops he won’t be killing himself and then head straight to the railway for a suicide attempt?) and the assortment of Chinese Triads, Russian hoods and corrupt cops reveal themselves as the stereotypes they are.

The Stath is reliably entertaining in another variation on his usual gruff hardman persona though, despite a half-hearted American accent and some awkward lines (such as the “till my dying day” parting). Elsewhere, veteran Chinese-American actor James Hong also pops up.

Though not living up to its early promise, Safe will provide entertainment for anyone in the market for Jason Statham’s usual brand of gruff hardman thrills. For anyone else, not so much.

Reviewed on: 09 May 2012
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An ex-cage fighter tries to help a girl on the run from gangsters who ruined his life.
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If you like this, try:

The Bank Job
Mercury Rising