Saturday, April 28, 2012

Safe (2012)

Since "The Transporter" franchise kicked off by releasing in 2002, Jason Statham has been heavily typecasted in lead roles for action movies as the obligatory "macho man who kicks ass." Since the typecasting began, he's had a fair share of success with the "Crank" franchise, but hasn't found that same acclaim with any other film he's done besides those two aforementioned franchise. However we now have "Safe," which from the trailers just looked like "Jason Statham with his fists and guns Part 39." Surprisingly though, "Safe" is actually one of the much better action showcases for Statham, and it brings me one step closer to forgiving him for his latest duds such as "The Mechanic" and "Killer Elite."

Luke Wright (Jason Statham) is a down-on-his-luck ex-cage fighter who also use to be an infamous NYC cop, too. Additionally, anything that was precious to him in his life had been taken away from him by the Russian mobsters. That's until he encounters a young girl named Mei, who has a remarkable ability at memorizing numbers at such a rapid rate. However, her infamous trait tracks the attention of Triads, the Russian mob, and corrupt NYC cops who want her latest set of memorized numbers that are codes for a safe containing millions of dollars. To keep Mei from getting killed, Luke becomes her bodyguard and what ensues is a fast-paced thrill ride riddled full of bullets and martial arts action galore.

Jason Statham fits his character to the respectable degree you'd believe him to fulfill, because he's always aware that his sole purpose in roles like these is to deliver on the action. However, I tend to perceive Statham as a good actor in a self-aware essence, which as I said is mostly due to how he nets down both the action and definite acting capabilities for an actor of that core. Furthermore, the film's many fast-paced action sequences enhance his performance to a greater degree where he gets to show off his widely regarded skills at performing his own stunts.

The supporting cast however, is a different tale compared to Statham. The most recognizable faces you can find besides Statham are Chris Sarandon and James Hong, but every other actor looked like as if they were picked right off the streets of the Big Apple. In relation to the stereotypical villainous organizations in the film, just about all of them seemed to be too relished within their characters, and the outcome from that notion are some very poor performances. However, the film carries on this B-movie style throughout the running time where that kind of acting is actually intentional for those purposes.

Writer-director Boaz Yakin treats this film with a properly fitting directorial style for the many action sequences that ensue. He uses handheld cameras for the majority of the action scenes, but it never turns into full-on shaky cam to the point where you can't even tell what's happening. Yakin seemed to be very aware of how much you can really shake the camera in a sequence, and the smart editing enhances that aspect above the most recent action movies released that have used that technique. In addition, Yakin has a keen eye for scene transitions when they cut in stylish form from one location to the next.

Carrying on from the stylish direction, the action sequences are very fast-paced and especially thrive off of the sound. You hear every gunshot in a loud, realistic manner and you feel every hard-hitting martial art move that comes your way. The only thing to really get past are the earliest action sequences that use painfully noticeable CGI blood when a person gets shot.

Overall, "Safe" is an above-average entry into the action movies that have released over the year so far, and it also brings Jason Statham out of the thunk he was stuck in during the 2011 season. The flaws are noticeable as the plot, dialogue and supporting cast are standard to the genre's conventions of the present day, but the film's B-movie appeal justifies those aspects to being at that level. This certainly isn't a film to rush out and see in theaters unless you're a devoted fan of Jason Statham, but it will function as a perfect rental to watch with your action junkie friends.

Final Grade: B-

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