Safe (2012)

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Released:  Friday, April 27, 2012  
Length:  95 minutes
Studio: Lionsgate
Genre: Action/Adventure
Rating: Safe is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of AmericaUnder 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.


Synopsis

A second-rate cage fighter on the mixed martial arts circuit, Luke Wright lives a numbing life of routine beatings and chump change...until the day he blows a rigged fight. Wanting to make an example of him, the Russian Mafia murders his family and banishes him from his life forever, leaving Luke to wander the streets of New York destitute, haunted by guilt, and tormented by the knowledge that he will always be watched, and anyone he develops a relationship with will also be killed.

But when he witnesses a frightened twelve-year-old Chinese girl, Mei, being pursued by the same gangsters who killed his wife, Luke impulsively jumps to action...and straight into the heart of a deadly high-stakes war. Mei, he discovers, is no ordinary girl, but an orphaned math prodigy forced to work for the Triads as a "counter." He discovers she holds in her memory a priceless numerical code that the Triads, the Russian mob and a corrupt faction of the NYPD will kill for.

Realizing he's the only person Mei can trust, Luke tears a swath through the city's brutal underworld to save an innocent girl's life...and perhaps even redeem his own.

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Safe Theatrical Review


The latest film starring the chisel-jawed Jason Statham is the unholy baby of screen writer Boaz Yakin who wrote such movies as "The Punisher" (1989) and "The Rookie" (1990) before his impressive directorial debut with "Fresh." For the first 25 minutes or so, he appears to have pulled off an unexpected success with his latest effort. In the opening stretch, the story rapidly cuts back and forth, setting up parallel stories involving its two central characters: a cage fighter/human killing machine named Luke Wright (Statham) and an 11-year-old Chinese girl with a photographic memory, Mei (newcomer Catherine Chan).
 
Shipped to America as a "counter," Mei essentially serves as the stooge in an elaborate web of debased corruption, carrying around a numeric code inside her head since her security-concerned overlords don't like leaving trails, electronic or otherwise. However once she escapes, that secret makes her a target, with the Chinese Triad, Russian mob and dirty police all after her. Meanwhile, Luke has his own "Punisher"-like history that has depleted his will to live, before he encounters Mei and realizes she's being pursued by the same goons who destroyed his happy home.
 
Even for a traditional revenge tale, the beginning speeds by with style and efficiency. After that, however, "Safe" becomes a series of erratic encounters yielding an almost-comical body count, with much of the carnage taking place in public spaces around screaming civilians. While the audience is perhaps expected to accept this absence of discretion in criminal enterprises from notorious communist strongholds, it's still jarring to see such a lack of concern for people and property on crowded city streets.
 
For Statham, the role doesn't venture far from the hard-boiled territory he occupied in the "Transporter" series, with a touch of "The Professional" given his empathy for this orphaned tyke, whose precociousness proves a hit-miss proposition as the movie progresses. Unfortunately, the emphasis on promiscuous gun play somewhat dilutes the muscular close-quarters ass-kicking for which Statham's known, though with so many bad guys to dispatch, there's plenty of both. ("The Expendables'" stunt coordinator Chad Stahelski provides the fight choreography.)
 
Despite a few humble twists, the thin plot barely holds together long enough to justify all the mayhem.
Yakin's script contains a few amusing throwaway lines, but "Safe" doesn't go so far as to embrace the absurdity of its situations, while seldom slowing down once it gets rolling to worry about characters. It's not bad, strictly on a visceral level, and as an action star, Statham has exactly what we want. Yet the film makers are so mindful of their core assets, every choice "Safe" makes after the opening -- from the look to the music -- comes off exactly like the meaning of the title. 

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Trailer
Trailer
A second-rate cage fighter on the mixed martial arts circuit, Luke Wright lives a numbing life of routine beatings and chump change...until the day he blows a rigged fight. Wanting to make an example ...
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