Movie Review: Safe (2012)
Safe fulfills the expectations of modern thrillers with its breakneck pacing, over-the-top violence, and explosive action sequences. Don’t let the numerous location changes within the film’s opening few minutes fool you – there’s little time wasted on lengthy introductions or complex motives as the tumultuous mayhem starts quickly and refuses to subside until the final frame. The brutal combat borders on the monotonous, but it also unflinchingly delivers what its audience wants to see, without stopping for development. While you’ll likely guess who wins each round of warfare, clever moments of pandemonium and self-reflective humor arise from the maelstrom to reveal the film’s slightly more insightful mindset on cathartic thrills. But then it’s right back to Jason Statham shoving a fork in someone’s throat.
11-year-old Mei (Catherine Chan) is abducted and forced to work for ruthless Chinese gangsters due to her extraordinary skills in memorization and mathematics. When Mei is given a numerical code to a safe containing 30 million dollars, the Triad, the Russian mafia, and corrupt New York officials all want her – dead or alive. Luckily for her, disgraced former cop Luke Wright (Jason Statham) happens upon the fleeing girl and rescues her. Determined to protect Mei, Wright launches a full-scale war against the criminal leaders and their vast armies of merciless killers.
Laudation goes to this film for knowing exactly what it is and not attempting anything out of its reach, hiding behind underdeveloped themes, or muddling genres. It doesn’t waste time with Luke’s history, in-depth personality traits, supporting people in his life, or even the visuals of his wife. In a matter of seconds, he’s a lone wolf with nothing left to live for. He’s the only honest cop in Manhattan, has a soft spot for victims of social injustice, and can kick some ass like a one-man army – all qualities that make him incompatible with comrades, the authorities, and villainy. In a world where everyone is corrupt and out to get him, Luke must battle Russian thugs, Chinese gangsters, police, politicians, and even pickpockets, armed quite heavily with martial arts skills, muscles (as evidenced by the very first scene he’s in, sans shirt), an arsenal of random guns picked up along the way, and a salvo of hilariously macho catch phrases.
The editing is keen, with snazzy transitions, tricks to amp up the intensity of violence, and creative methods of boosting the body count. There’s plenty of chaos for the sake of spectacle, and although boomingly extravagant, it’s never augmented by the annoying shaky cam. The bad guys get it good and go through the obligatory merciless errands to deserve it. The climax is the highlight, with surprisingly unexpected bluster arising from the least likely route of commotion. Always aware of how generic action movies play out, Safe goes against the grain to deliver unique stunts, unpredictable showdowns, and unanticipated fun. It’s a brisk 94 minutes that keeps the punches coming – in a guilty pleasure, mindless action/adventure variety.
- The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)
The Massie Twins are identical twin film critics who have been professionally reviewing movies full time for over 5 years, appearing on TV, radio, online and in print. They are members of the Phoenix Film Critics Society and the Internet Film Critic Society and their work can be seen at GoneWithTheTwins.com