What do Chev Chelios, Frank Martin, and Quentin Connors have in common?
Right. They were all characters played by actor Jason Statham in some of his signature action films. Chelios was the lead character in the Crank films, Martin was the lead in Transporter series, and Connors was another of the Statham tough-guy characters in the film Chaos.
Following the title game plan of just one syllable – Statham’s new vehicle called Safe opened yesterday. The word safe has many meanings:
Be Safe: Stay out of harm’s way
Stay Safe: watch your back
Keep it in the Safe: A place to store and keep valuables.
In this case, all three of the above can be included as they make up segments of the film. We can also say that Statham played it safe with this film as it stays within the parameters of what we know and expect in his films.
The film starts with the Russian mobster Docheski demanding that a small Chinese girl, the 11 year Mei, tell him what he requires. We then flash back a year to a school in China. Mei is going to be at a blackboard explaining a complex mathematical formula. Her teacher believes that this school is ‘too easy’ for Mei, so he arranges that she be transferred to a school for gifted students.
But she’s kidnapped and brought to New York’s Chinatown where she’s told that she has a new father, and she’ll be expected to work for a particular Chinese Gang Boss. His name is Han Jiao and he’s played by James Hong who has played uncountable Chinese gangsters as well as a maitre ‘d that can’t get the Seinfeld gang a table and repeatedly asks them to wait ‘… oh, five, ten minutes.‘
So what is Mei expected to do? She’s a counter and that means she’s great with numbers and can remember everything she sees. Like codes, like amounts, like combinations to safes. Flash forward to a year later.
Mei is successfully employed by the Chinese mobsters. She does a great job for them. But then she’s grabbed again – this time by the same Russian mob that we met at the film’s outset.
Then another flash forward and we are again current – Docheski is still threatening Mei. Only the Russians are being threatened by some corrupt New York cops who are about to break in.
In a series of plot details that we don’t need to go through here – we are set up with the cops, the Chinese, and the Russians all desperate to get their hands on Mei who slipped away in the confusion at Docheski’s place.
This is when all of them are brought together – Russians, cops, Chinese, Mei and of course Luke Wright (Statham) who also has issues with these same Russians.
Statham’s Luke Wright manages to come away with Mei – and eventually he’s going to piece the whole thing together.
From here on it is chases, shootouts, shootouts, and still more shootouts. There’s a huge number of people who are going to end up in body bags.
So much for the set up. The film runs 94 minutes and as I said, there’s a high body count. Besides Mei, there are no women in the film that matter, and there’s no sex at all.
The Chinese run the gambling and night clubs. The Russians wear leather and gold chains and they have their own nightclubs. Statham as Wright is , as expected, impervious to pain, tougher than nails, and besides never missing when he shoots, he speaks Russian. When some one tells him, that he’s got some set of balls, Wright replies – ‘Yeah, I’m lucky I can walk.‘ So he’s damned good with the one-line comebacks .
The film will run its course and will seem distinctly familiar. It will yield no surprising double crosses, tons of action, and is fast paced. You’ll be nearly breathless and you’re only watching.
You’ll have no problem following the story, as the plot isn’t all that complex. We know that it is the contents of two safes that everyone wants, needs, or is willing to die to protect.
We know that Wright and Mei have no allies at all. All the Chinese except Mei are bad, there’s not a good Russian or an honest cop in sight (I mean one with a speaking part if you’re asking or objecting to that reference).
Three point two five is the rating – and if you’re in need of an adrenalin rush, then by all means consider seeing it. Just don’t do anything that’s not safe to get there quickly.
Next Review: The 2010 thriller from Italy – The Double Hour –