If not for The Raid: Redemption‘s stateside release about a month ago, my clear-cut choice for best action movie of the year so far would probably be the new Jason Statham action flick, Safe, a fast-paced thrill ride that more than satisfyingly delivers what I expected from Safe House a while ago. Whereas that Denzel vehicle might have been one of the bigger disappointments of the pre-blockbuster season, Safe ranks as one of the bigger surprises yet and could very well end up being one of the best by year’s end.
Written and directed by Boaz Yakin, who’s taken a substantially different turn from his previous work (Remember the Titans and Uptown Girls, both of which are tucked away in my DVD library… yes, even Uptown Girls), his latest movie revolves around a girl who can memorize anything, mostly absurd amounts of numbers (so of course she’s gotta be Asian, right? lol). Naturally, every shady circle in the urban jungle that is Manhattan is hunting the invaluable asset. The Chinese, the Russians, the NYPD… and then there’s Statham, essentially retreading the only role he’s ever played in his entire career.
Despite this, Safe handily trumps any of the stupid Transporter films that he’s so well known for, and it’s the best Statham movie since The Bank Job, breaking a streak of meh movies that include Killer Elite, The Mechanic, The Expendables, and Gnomeo & Juliet. I loved the quick cuts and efficient, if not minimalistic, storytelling from the opening seconds. Even better were some of the action sequences that were shot in ways I’ve never seen before.
Featuring a healthy dose of laughs, blistering hand-to-hand combat, and anything-goes shootouts that got me fiending for some Kane & Lynch or Grand Theft Auto IV, this is how an action movie should be like, at the very least, nowadays. Safe isn’t anywhere near as ridiculous as the pair of Crank movies though; if Crank is an action movie on steroids AND meth, Safe is one caffeinated with a double shot of espresso, completing the hat trick for the last three action movies I’ve seen. Safe gets 3.5 out of 5 stars or B or Good.