To avoid any confusion, this is a review of a movie starring Jason Statham, titled Safe.
I love action movies. They are a form of wish fulfillment. I certainly wouldn’t want the problems action characters face, but I very much want their superhuman skills. As such, these movies succeed or fail in entertaining me based on action choreography, camera work, pacing, and avoiding something so very very stupid I cannot ignore it. I’m EXTREMELY tolerant about that last requirement.
Good story telling is nice and so are things like musical score, cinematography, and great acting. However, when I watch this genre, I’m willing to let quality slide farther than in other genres. See my review of Prometheus for examples. This creates an unfair standard, but I’m okay with that. Now that you know about my biases, you can judge how much value to place on my opinions.
Content: Violence: pervasive. Swearing: lots. Drug use: alcohol and I think some tobacco. Sex: none.
I would see this movie again and recommend it to friends. Not recommended for children.
*** Spoilers Follow ***
Fun factor: 8/10 with two points deducted for confusing camera work. Safe doesn’t sink to shaky-cam but at times it comes pretty close. This style worked for me during car chase footage, where it effectively conveyed a sense that things were happening so fast, even a superhero like Luke Wright couldn’t keep up. It failed in some of the fight scenes where I’m sure people are just as confused, but as the viewer I want to see what is happening.
Satisfaction: 9/10. A couple of bad guys don’t get what’s coming to them. Otherwise, they wrapped the story up nicely.
Plotting: 8/10. Once again, the film makers dipped into cliche a bit too much. Specifically, our hero is slowly revealed to have a greater and greater skill set. So why didn’t he think to ask Mei if she had a cell phone before deciding their hiding place was safe? Also, the gangsters initially use Mei to replace computerized financial record keeping. She knows their business inside and out, yet as the story develops she assumes that once she delivers the long boring number to its destination, they will kill her. The writers never explicitly state that Mei is the only copy of these business records, but they imply it. It seems, then, that the gang cannot really afford to kill her out-of-hand.
Also, Luke’s mental state is not consistent. For example, when his wife is killed he is so upset he refuses to fight back, apparently hoping that the bad guys will kill him. Late in the film, one of the villains taunts him about his dead wife’s looks and Luke is able to make a joke about it. This could be explained by Luke finally having his ‘game face’ on, but I didn’t buy it.
Grand tally: 8/10. Safe does a better job with police response than most action films, meaning that when the shooting starts, the police actually respond. I found the acting adequate throughout and pretty good in spots (for the genre.) The action was fun and mostly plausible–it could happen… sort of… Overall, I’m glad I bought the ticket.