Russian mafia hitmen, Chinese triads, corrupt police and New York city laid waste by a one-man army of destruction... ladies and gentlemen, I give you Safe.
Jason Statham takes on a battalion of multi-lingual bad guys in this cut-price John Woo-esque action extravaganza as he seeks to protect a 10-year-old girl – a walking computer whose remarkable brain holds a multi-million dollar secret.
But don’t let’s worry too much about that. Instead let’s savour the sheer energy that propels this adventure ever onwards as Luke – ex-cop, cage fighter and running man – scythes his way through the Big Apple’s streets, subways and skyscrapers.
So much happens in Safe that it’s hard to string together the various plot points. Consistent throughout are the cruelty of the villains, the physical dexterity of the hero and the innocence of Mei (Catherine Chan), the child in everyone’s sights.
Safe resembles a slighter version of Luc Besson’s Leon. Like Besson’s hero, Luke (Statham) builds a fractured father/daughter relationship with the girl and endures all manner of woes to keep her from harm.
Meanwhile, he deftly sidesteps the attentions of his former comrades – all bent and trigger-happy – as he turns the bad guys against each other.
Excessively violent even for a 15 certificate, Safe both embraces cartoon violence and favours tightly choreographed fights and stunts to deliver a speeding train of a movie. It’s fast, furious and frequently funny. Statham was born for this kind of role and if his Stateside accent wavers it’s soon forgotten amidst the mayhem and gunplay.
Aficionados will enjoy spotting B-movie action regulars like Chris Sarandon, James Hong and Robert John Burke. But it’s the thrills and spills that take this one forward, and director Boaz Yakin presents it all with aplomb.