By Hemanth Kissoon
“Don’t lose sleep. He had it coming,” Luke Wright (Jason Statham) to passengers on a train after he executes a baddie.
It was 1998 when LOCK STOCK launched Jason Statham onto the movie scene, but it was 2002 and THE TRANSPORTER where he found his niche: a lovable martial arts thug geezer with charm and charisma. No matter the dross he appears in (BLITZ, THE ITALIAN JOB [remake], IN THE NAME OF THE KING: A DUNGEON SIEGE TALE, etc.) his career doesn’t stall. His brand of mayhem has a fanbase, which includes me. The Stathe has delivered enough entertainment to be in my good books (coupled with my expectations for his oeuvre being pretty low): THE TRANSPORTER [1 and 2], THE EXPENDABLES and CRANK: HIGH VOLTAGE. SAFE joins those four as a butt-kicking slice of bullsh*t that I thoroughly enjoyed.
The poster tagline, “She has the code. He is the key,” sums up proceedings. A mathematics genius pre-adolescent with a photographic memory, Mei, has been taken from China to America to help gangsters conduct their business. The film kicks-off, jumps back an hour, jumps back a year, and then resumes in the present. Mei has been asked to memorise a code, which suddenly puts her on the radar of Russian mobsters, corrupt cops and an errant politician. It is pretty convoluted why she is tasked with knowing that set of numbers. Stathe’s Luke comes into her sphere of course, and ends up attempting to protect her. He is ex-cop, ex-special forces, ex-cage fighter; I kid you not. Luke has a unique skillset!
Inevitable bone-crunching chaos ensues. There are nice stylistic touches, such as a shoot-out we witness purely from inside a vehicle, and a car chase seen from a rear-view mirror. The ending is not quite as expected either. If you overlook Statham’s dodgy US accent, there is much to enjoy for action aficionados.