Monday 30 April 2012

Safe review

Safe (15/R, 94 mins)
Director: Boaz Yakin
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

In China, a young girl named Mei is discovered to be something of a maths expert. When the Triads cotton on to this, they take her to the States to use her brain to store the valuable information they’d rather not trust to a computer.

But they're in the middle of a turf war with their Russian counterparts in New York, and they'll stop at nothing to get their hands on Mei who is in possession of a code for a safe containing millions.

Meanwhile we meet Luke Wright (Jason Statham), a hard-as nails ex-cop getting by as a cage fighter. But he didn’t go down in the round he was supposed to and so the Russians killed his wife and he’s down on his luck and contemplating suicide when he saves Mei from the Russians.

Though it’s quite an extended setup before we get to the action, it puts Luke in a situation where the only way is up for him, as well as adding a much needed element of humanity to his classical protector role, with Statham at his least monolithic and most sympathetic.

But the reason anyone buys a ticket to something like this is to see Statham taking names, and though what follows is done with little grace, it’s muscular and pounding and unapologetic in its scale.

You know where you stand with a Jason Statham movie, and throwing him into a mix of gangsters and corrupt cops offers plenty of opportunity for ferocious action and fluidly orchestrated car chases. At times it seems it’s one man against the entire city, and the body count is enormous.

It does tail off a bit in the final stretch when it starts trying to provide too much plot, and a lot of stuff is either wrapped up too neatly or left hanging. But until then, as Luke dispatches unholy retribution by fist and gun, the wrath of the righteous is immensely satisfying.

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