The pulpy scenarios change, but squinty action-hero Jason Statham remains chiseled, coiled, and ready to hurl himself into scores of grimacing baddies like a goddamn human cannonball. In writer-director Boaz Yakin's Safe, a preposterously enjoyable—or enjoyably preposterous—action-thriller, Statham headlines as disgraced NYPD super-cop-turned-small-time-cage-fighter Luke, whose refusal to take a dive gets his wife murdered by the Russian mafia. Banished to a remorseful life of homeless shelters and paranoia, our chrome-domed badass crawls up from rock bottom for some vengeance (read: justification to open arteries all over Manhattan) when he stumbles upon the film's MacGuffin: a 10-year-old Chinese prodigy (Catherine Chan) who has memorized a valuable numerical code. Protecting the young girl against a multifront underworld war of Russians, their Chinese Triad rivals, and the crooked-cop crew who tarnished his name for not taking payouts, Luke's self-imposed, redemptive mission fits snugly in his portrayer's cinematic wheelhouse—cracking skulls and then wise. The movie is neither as franchise-friendly as The Transporter nor as boorishly experimental as Crank: High Voltage, but Yakin's sleek, visually witty direction (a static, inside-the-car shot of a thug getting run over twice nabs two laughs) elevates his undeniably dopey script.
Boaz YakinJason Statham, Chris Sarandon, James Hong, Robert John Burke, Anson Mount, Reggie Lee, Victor Pagan, Igor Jijikine, Danny Hoch, Danielle McKeeBoaz YakinLawrence Bender, Dana BrunettiLionsgate Films