“Safe” is the worst Jason Statham movie since the last Jason Statham movie, carrying on the bargain-budget action star's tradition of building a body of work out of, well, dead bodies.
Writer-director Boaz Yakin (who directed the gentle football drama “Remember the Titans” but now is back in the mode of his first-produced screenplay with Dolph Lundgren's vigilante tale “The Punisher”) proves the ideal enabler for Statham's brand of mindless carnage.
Together, they turn Manhattan into little more than a shooting gallery, stacking up corpses in service of a supposed story about one man's path to redemption. But really, all they care about is stacking up corpses, as many as they can, ripped apart by as many bullets as possible, with a few snapped necks and other more intimate moments of savagery to break up the repetitive tedium of the gunplay.
The fact that Statham's main co-star, a little girl, witnesses much of this violence with barely a wince says a lot about where the filmmakers' heads are at: Hey, we're just doing cartoon violence, nyukking it up like the Three Stooges, nothing really objectionable here. As long as you don't object to a couple of hundred kill shots to the head and barrages so indiscriminate you have no clue how many casual bystanders are getting blown away along with the many bad guys.
Yakin's thin setup intercuts the story of Statham's Luke Wright with 12-year-old Chinese math prodigy Mei (Catherine Chan). Luke's a deadly mixed-martial arts fighter inexplicably working as a punching bag in the arena — until he mistakenly wins a match he was supposed to throw, prompting terrible retaliation by Russian mobsters who leave Luke an outcast cut off from any possibility of real human contact.
Mei's a genius kidnapped by Chinese gangsters and taken to New York City as a human abacus, keeping her boss' accounting books in her head so he doesn't leave a computer trail of his crimes.
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Starring: Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, Chris Sarandon, Robert John Burke. (Strong violence throughout, and for language)
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