The first noticeable difference is that SAFE actually has a decent story. It’s not a straightforward brainless actioner, but something with a bit of depth and character. Statham plays a broken man, a fighter with a secret past reeling from the murder of his wife and forced to live on the streets on the run from…well, everyone. He’s still cool and collected when he has to be, but there’s something going on under the surface. Obviously it won’t be vying for any awards, but Statham gets to play someone you root for—and not just because you want to see him smash someone’s face in.
On the flip side is the young Chinese girl Statham must protect, who is herself a fascinating character. A mathematical genius, Mei’s photographic mind is like a computer that the Chinese mob exploits, kidnapping her to America to keep track of their business without leaving a paper trail. Predictably, things go wrong and her path crosses with Statham’s, but even though they only spend a small amount of time together, they both impact each other’s course for the rest of the film. And relative newcomer Catherine Chan is great in the role, which is a heavy and tough one for a child actress.
I don’t want to make SAFE sound like a boring drama though, as it’s definitely focused on action. From the opening sequence, which starts in the middle of the story and sets up the characters, the flick moves at breakneck speed. Director Boaz Yakin (REMEMBER THE TITANS) does a great job behind the camera, staging some inventive shots and sequences to try and set SAFE apart from your typical Statham action movie. (Love the car chase that makes good use of the rearview mirror.) And the fighting in this is pretty brutal too. When we meet Statham’s character he’s working as a cage fighter and the rest of the film follows suit, going for broken bones, crushed throats and quick but violent takedowns.
Suffice to say, if you’re a fan of Statham’s, you won’t be disappointed.
Cracking Safe (11:40): This surprisingly good BTS featurette covers the film’s origin with Yakin and goes on to enlighten you on shooting on location in New York, stunt work and car chases, and some interviews with Statham and cast.
Criminal Battleground (8:01): Cast and crew discuss New York City as a character in the film, a villainous character.
The Art of the Gunfight (10:15): Learn how Jason Statham does action.
Extra Tidbit: CLICK HERE to watch our own JimmyO eat at Denny’s and shoot the shit with director Boaz Yakin!