The Invincible Man, by Jack Fleischer
In Safe, Jason Statham plays “Luke,” a likeable superhero. Catherine Chan plays “Mei,” an adorable little girl. Add the Russian mob, the Chinese mob, and crooked cops and you get a standard issue action movie. Safe is a handsome movie in much the same way some women are handsome. It has all the right parts, but it’s more “interesting” than it is “hot.”
Mei, is a young Chinese girl with numeric eidetic memory. The Triads ship her off to New York to work as a kind of unhackable/untraceable human computer. Along with being a walking balance book, eventually she’s given the job of holding onto a long and mysterious string of numbers. It turns out that a number of corrupt cads are in the market for this mysterious number. Through a little luck and some chance, a mysterious man at the end of his own rope comes to her rescue.
Safe is a little like Man on Fire, Mercury Rising, Hard Target, Wake of Death, Transporter 2, or Leon. The formula takes a flawed and hardened protector who must now defend an innocent child. It’s better than some, not as good as others. It’s a very specific flavor of ice cream, and if you already like that flavor this film will most likely satisfy.
In the win column you have Statham playing Statham. The man is likable, and this film doesn’t change that. I always like to see James Hong and Reggie Lee working, and they both do a good job as two of our primary Triad baddies. Generally speaking all of the bad guys in this film are drawn in the thick colored pen of a comic book. Their lines sound like canned beef stew, bland and hearty. Thankfully the actors cast in these roles suite this broad style well.
Written and directed by Boaz Yakin (Prince of Persia, Remember the Titans), he makes the standard bouts of action appealing, stopping short of surprising or stunning. He excels at keeping certain plot elements hidden until they’re absolutely necessary. It not about suspense, so much as maintaining interest. We’re given just enough to keep us holding on. The ending isn’t really a surprise, but we take an intriguing path to its termination.
The drawbacks come from the fact that there are times when a little thought reveals the premise as forced and absurd. Add to that, some of the gunfights read like the Commando compound raid. But this seems a bit like complaining that caramel is sweet. This will come as no surprise, but this is a comic book movie. Statham is “Superman.” The biggest problem for both him and Supes is that they are obviously unbeatable. Of course I want him to succeed, but at the same time there’s part of me that wants it to be more of a challenge.
Personally, I feel that there is no better flawed-killer story with a tiny female sidekick than Leon. But if you like Jason “Superman” Statham’s pretty face, you’ll most likely enjoy spending some sweet time on a date with Safe.