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April 28, 2012


Capsule Movie Review – Safe (2012)


Hollywood never tires of peddling left-wing paranoid conspiracy theories. Safe‘s is only the most outlandish element of an over-complicated plot also involving the Chinese mob, the Russian mob, crooked NYC cops, official corruption at the highest levels, a scruffy tough-guy hero, and a cute Chinese girl who is a math savant. Some screenwriters would have considered that sufficient story material for a 95-minute action thriller without giving the hero backstory enough for seven good badmen. Convincing? No. Entertaining? For the most part, yes. The movie takes a little while to get going but once it does, it really gets going. It is, as they say, action-packed. Plus, I like a hero with a brain behind his fists of fury. Jason Statham’s range is limited, but he’s effective within that range and writer-director Boaz Yakin doesn’t ask him to stretch. The girl (newcomer Catherine Chan) is spunky and just plain adorable. The bad guys are colorful; three of them are played by scene-stealing actors James Hong, Robert John Burke, and Chris Sarandon. Some of the dialogue crackles. And it has one of those moments- one of those great movie moments that make you and everyone around you in the theater erupt into spontaneous laughter and cheers. I can’t be too hard on it after that.

2 1/2 stars

One thing I liked and one thing I didn’t like: Somebody uses the word “internecine” in a totally natural way. Enough with the Russian mafia already, it isn’t the only politically-correct generic baddie in the world.

12 Comments Post a comment
  1. Apr 28 2012

    When I first saw the trailer to this film, many months back, I had two thoughts flowing through my mind: that’s it’s another version of “Mercury Rising” and that it can’t possibly be as terrible a film as “Mercury Rising”.

    I’m not a Statham fan and this review made me realize that my predictions re this film were correct: rental at best.

    Nicely worded, Helen. :O)

  2. Apr 29 2012

    @Nir: “Safe” is a Statham vehicle so don’t take this as a personal recommendation, but action-heavy movies like this should be seen in the theater or not at all. The little girl will be just as cute on the small screen but everything else that’s fun about it will be diminished.

    Thank you for the compliment. :-)

  3. Apr 29 2012

    It is deserved. :O)

    I have noticed that I watch movies at home much more than in the theatres. I’d say that I venture outdoors, maybe, twice a month. I also never watch comedies in the theatres; there’s just no point in paying $13 to see people stammer and improv their way into our hearts, or in my case in front of my shaking fist. 2 of last year’s worst films were comedies: Bridesmaids and Angry Bosses. *sigh*

    Even when it comes to action films, I now prefer to watch them at home using my 42″ plasma and preferably on Blu-ray or via Blu-ray rip. That kind of quality is superior to theatrical digital projection because digital projection comes off, at times, as out of focus and blurry wen there’s motion. While watching “The Cabin in the Woods” I realized that it could be viewed at home just as well because the jump scares (which, thankfully barely exist) didn’t work. But they weren’t supposed to. 0_<

    So I will watch "Safe" in the future but at home. :O)

  4. Miriam
    Apr 29 2012

    You’re right about the Russian mafia being overdone, let’s bring back the Albanians. The body count on this one was a little high for my taste but I really liked the little girl.

  5. Apr 30 2012

    @Miriam: And after them the Bulgarians. ;-)

    I did too, in fact I’d go so far as to say she made the movie for me.

  6. Apr 30 2012

    @Nir: “Horrible Bosses” is one of those exceptions that prove the rule that movies are better in the theater. Hollywood comedies with the visual aesthetic of TV sitcoms weren’t made for the big screen and don’t benefit from being seen on it.

    The movies it’s most important to see in the theater are action/adventure movies and great dramas. Not even the best home theater can replicate the scale of the theater screen and that scale is essential to the overall effect, either kinetic or emotional. I’ve watched a lot of movies at home that I first saw in the theater, and I’ve yet to come across a film in one of those two categories that wasn’t lessened in impact by being reduced in size. And it’s not just that the movies weren’t as good on second viewing, because when I’ve reversed the order- seen a movie in a revival screening after one or even many viewings at home- it’s still been better on the big screen.

  7. Apr 30 2012

    There is the occasional great theatre going experience, like Inception and M: I – 4, and terrific dramas. But I am now comfortable with watching 90% of oncoming films at home. It’s also free that way. :O)

  8. Doc
    Apr 30 2012

    I have seldom seen a film that was as direct in promising us a sequel. One hopes the box office earns it, and that every West Coast villain is ready for Statham.

  9. May 1 2012

    @Doc: I suspect the filmmakers’ hopes for a sequel have been dashed by the opening weekend box office. Bad business for them.

  10. May 1 2012

    That usually happens with Statham films. Except, maybe, The Transporter. And even though I found the first one to be a crappy film (but it was, after all a success), it certainly didn’t need sequels. They were just awful.

    Lock-Stock, Snatch, The Bank Job, Crank 2, and Killer Elite are the only god films he was in. Some of them didn’t even need him to be in them. lol

  11. May 1 2012

    @Nir: Profitability aside (his movies don’t cost much either) I was making a small joke with that “bad business” line, playing on one of the best bits in “Safe”- naturally enough to do with the little Chinese girl, since she is the best thing about it.

  12. May 1 2012

    You mean the only good thing about it. 0_<

    I can't wait to hear what you guys have to say about The Avengers. :OD