BEN DALTON finds pure, unadulterated joy in Safe – but not because it was actually any good.
Directed by Boaz Yakin
Safe opened to an empty cinema last night. This meant that we sat in the premier seats, kicked our shoes off, and put our legs in the air. And in this way, we remained for 94 minutes, finding pure, unadulterated joy in every frame of Yakin’s latest offering. But not because it was good, obviously.
Statham plays Luke Wright, a cage-fighter who, after a fixed fight goes the wrong way, finds himself answering to the Russian Mafia. Meanwhile, Mei (Catharine Chan), a young girl, becomes rolled up in dodgy dealings of her own. The chance meeting of the two protagonists leads to an unlikely collaboration, a high speed car chase and an absolute buffet of fisticuffs. However, let’s not worry about the story. The director certainly didn’t.
Instead Statham dodges bullets, rolls over tables, breaks necks between finger and thumb and orders White Russians at the bar. To watch the man on such a rampage feels like watching your Dad, post-barbeque and still in comedy apron, prancing round the kitchen with a makeshift banana revolver, reciting lines from The Terminator.
Having said this, some of the more impressive fight scenes were, at times, thoroughly on the money. The gonzo crack of a broken nose, the dull thud of a soup bowl to the throat and the unceremonious splat of spine against ‘sidewalk’. There were whiffs of the kind of thing that makes Quentin Tarantino plunge his hands down his pants. Just whiffs though. Like what you think is the smell of fresh scrambled eggs, only to realise it’s just a fart.
The film oscillated between weak appeals to emotion and full-on, monster-truck bashups. It didn’t work, but it was hilarious. Some fights were actually compelling to watch and others were delightfully crap. Special mention here goes to a casino shoot-out, where the smoke from excessive gunfire and the funky club lighting result in an ambience akin to a fourteen year old’s birthday party at Hemel LaserQuest.
As expected, dialogue was weak. For some reason, Mei was made to speak English like an HSBC advert (“These people: good business for you!”). All stereotypes were present and correct; chilly Slavs, mysterious Chinese, ominous piano music and a goodie dressed in light grey to show his relative moral cleanliness. Highlights would include when Clark Kent appeared to cameo, the bit where Luke eats a sandwich, and when Ben found a Mentos at the bottom of his coat pocket.
I don’t watch a lot of action films, but I am fairly sure that this one was shit. Go see this for a huge laugh. Then cry that you spent £8 on it.