Writer and director Boaz Yakin, known for his work in “Remember the Titans,” fails at keeping the adventure and action entertaining in his new film, “Safe.”
In the film, Jason Statham plays Luke Wright, an ex-cop turned cage fighter. Catherine Chan plays 10-year-old mathematics genius, Mei, who is abducted by Han (James Hong) and Russian gangsters. Wright is on the brink of suicide, but finds something to live for when he gets the chance to save Mei. Wright’s life is put in danger when Mei’s abductors, including Wright’s former police captain Wolf (Robert Burke), figure out he’s trying to save her. The two storylines do not connect until about 30 minutes in, which gives the film a confusing kick-off and forces the audience to play catchup for the rest of the movie.
While “Safe” is filled with stereotypical Hollywood action and adventure, there is simply too much plot to handle, and the film is weighed down by its complexity.
Because Wolf worked with Wright when he was still a cop, he is able to use his knowledge of Wright’s strategies to help track him down. While Wright is scripted as an ex-cop to give the film more depth, the twist fails to drive the plot and makes the storyline more confusing than it needs to be. Meanwhile, the subplot of Mei decoding the “National Treasure”-esque codes is an unnecessary distraction that makes it difficult to get to know the characters as individuals rather than just pieces of the puzzle.
The film is full of generic action and weak character development, only conveying actual emotion during close-ups on Mei that capture her innocence and paint her as a victim whose expertise has her caught in a whirlwind of danger she never expected or deserved. Otherwise, there is too much emphasis on the fighting scenes and not enough focus on what drives the characters to act the way they do. Yakin attempts to use tough-guy Statham, known for similar roles like in “The Mechanic” and “Crank,” to make Wright a hero. But the simplistic and emotionless series of car chases, explosions and bullets blazing through scenes have all been done before.
Unfortunately, “Safe” is not a story worth tracking down.
“Safe” was directed and written by Boaz Yakin.