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Hey, wow, weird! Look! It's Jason Statham running around with a half-beard in a 'Safe' action movie

Published: Friday, April 27, 2012

Updated: Friday, April 27, 2012 13:04


Starring Jason Statham, Catherine Chan

Directed by Boaz Yakin

Rated R

Opens Friday

Grade: C-

Rule No. 1: If you love Jason Statham and his brand of neck-stomping, head-busting killin’ skills, then you’re probably going to like his latest blast of movie mayhem, “Safe.”

Rule No. 2: If you don’t like Statham, and your idea of a brutal takedown is a witty riposte on “Downton Abbey,” then steer a wide berth around any theater showing “Safe.”

But, if you fall somewhere in the middle — appreciative of Statham’s talents at pounding and pummelling but feel some of his more recent movies like “Transporter 3” and “The Mechanic” left something to be desired — then “Safe” is more of a mixed bag full of the same ol’, same ol’.

Statham is Luke Wright, a down-on-his-luck former cop trying to make a living on the cage-fighting circuit. When he doesn’t take a dive as ordered, he angers the Russian mob, who kill his wife and tell him they’re going to, one by one, slaughter anyone who has any relationship with him — even his landlady. With nothing left to live for, and not wanting to get anyone else hurt, he considers suicide by subway when he notices a young, scared Chinese girl (Catherine Chan) being chased through the train station by these same goons.

Turns out she’s being hunted by the Russians, Chinese gangsters, and crooked cops because she’s the only one who knows the code to a safe containing millions of dollars. Faster than you can say “skull fracture,” Luke has something to live — and fight — for.

Directed by Boaz Yakin (“Remember the Titans” with a brawny efficiency, “Safe” gets the job done. There’s a car-chase scene going the wrong way down a one-way street that’s absolutely thrilling and the fight choreography is often wince-inducing. Few can turn men into meatloaf better than Statham (though, after seeing Indonesian martial-arts star Iko Uwais in “The Raid: Redemption,” Statham definitely has some company).

Still, in recent years, Statham has shown he can handle something slightly more complicated (“The Bank Job”) or chosen films with a sense of pop-culture humor (Death Race, Crank) that gave them an extra kick. Unfortunately, “Safe” doesn’t fall into either of these categories.

Ultimately, “Safe” lives up to its title.

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