Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Safe [2012]

Director: Boaz Yakin
Starring: Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, James Hong, Reggie Lee, Robert John Burke
Genre: Action
Rating: Teen
Excerpt: "It's easy to accuse Safe of playing it safe, but the movie exhibited some vulnerabilities that added to its charm..."

What seems like a gift that would promise her a bright future, Mei (Catherine Chan) is doomed for a life in the Triad when they discovered her exceptional skill with numbers. Meanwhile, a jaded cage fighter, Luke Wright (Jason Statham) gets in the ring with another fighter who has no business fighting. He wins the fight but at the expense of his opponent going into a coma, and Luke learns soon after that the match is rigged by the Russian Mafia. Condemned to spend a life under their brand of justice, Luke is ready to give up on life. But as fate would have it, he finds a reason to live when he crosses paths with Mei.

What to Expect
1. Top notch fight scenes
2. A "tough-guy" movie with a little bit of heart
3. Interesting premise
4. Some missed opportunities

What NOT to Expect
1. Much depth
2. Absence of cliches
If you're undecided on what to see, opting for this wouldn't be a bad idea
Ladies and gents, this is a Jason Statham movie. Let that sink in for a moment. Depending on your prejudice, my guess is you've already made up your mind about whether or not you'd go for Safe. Well, chances are, this movie will not change your perception, nor will it garner new fans. But given my history of being an Action Movie Fanboy, the movie was indeed forgettable, but it was a whole lot of fun while it lasted.

Still, that is not to say that this was strictly a just-another-Jason-Statham-movie movie. You'd be surprised that despite all the gunshots, kicks, punches and breaking of bones, this movie also had heart and you will see Jason Statham do something he had never done before (at least not to my knowledge); Cry on-screen.

More than once.

Frankly I think this is important, and it made a whole lot of difference because it called to mind movies like Leon [1994], which helped it rise above the genre (though not to the extent how The Dark Knight [2008] elevated itself to being more than just a superhero movie). However, as the movie progress, you might get the feel like it's a little short on focus, and you might start asking questions like "Why couldn't there be more of this?", or "why didn't they run with that?"

Okay, maybe it was just me.

But still, those were legitimate questions. Bear in mind that I'm not taking away anything from this movie due to things that weren't in the movie, because... Well, what's the point of that? Instead, I am merely saying that Safe could have been much more, had they give more emphasis on the relationship between Luke and Mei (or prolonged the Die Hard portion of the movie. You'll see what I mean), because that's what sets this movie apart from every other Jason Statham movie.

But I digress. Like I said, a missed opportunity isn't necessarily a flaw. At the very core, Safe is a movie about tough guys, and there was no shortage in the action department at all. You'd be delighted to learn that writer-director Boaz Yakin put as much thought into writing the screenplay as he did with directing. The presentation was just... Interesting, to say the least.

The movie employed the use of flashbacks to share with us what the characters went through. What's interesting was how they were brief, and came as quickly as it went, but you wouldn't get the feel like they were done just to get them out of the way so they can focus on the kicking-ass part of the movie. The same goes to the story and plot progression in general, but I am not one to give away any spoilers. All I'm gonna tell you here, is that this is not too straightforward an action movie.

Add all that up, it's easy to accuse the movie of playing it safe, but Safe is a tough guy movie that exhibited some vulnerabilities that added to its charm. So yeah, while it doesn't say much, Safe is not The Transporter 4.

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