Safe, Jason Statham

John Baer/Lionsgate

Review in a Hurry: It's safe to say Safe star Jason Statham kicks butt—what's new, right? This formulaic but entertaining action flick, about an ex-cop who guards an orphaned girl from gangsters, packs a punch with high-adrenaline stunts and shoot-'em-ups. But try to dodge the silly plot. 

The Bigger Picture: The Transporter and a human computer meet in Manhattan, brutal violence ensues. Writer-director Boaz Yakin piles on the criminals and corruption and overly convolutes the serviceable storyline, but he smartly keeps Safe's pace moving so swiftly that action fans won't care.

Statham sports a New Yawk accent as Luke Wright, a former police officer turned second-rate cage fighter. When Luke ticks off the Russian mafia—never a good idea—the thugs murder his wife, leaving him to wander the streets. Here we learn gruff Luke really has a heart of gold because he gives his shoes to a gangrenous drifter. Aw and ew.

Luke spots the same Russian gangsters pursuing a scared 12-year-old girl, Mei (Catherine Chan), and he quickly intervenes—with his fists. On the run together, Mei reveals to Luke she's a math prodigy forced to work as a "counter" for the Chinese Triad. She also holds in her memory a numerical code coveted by the Triads and Russian mob, as well as dirty NYPD cops and a corrupt mayor (Chris Sarandon, saddled with exposition-heavy monologues).

To protect Mei and teach the baddies a lesson in ass-whooping, superhuman Luke hops subway cars, dives from high-rises, and—in the best-choreographed sequences—busts up a luxury hotel and Chinese nightclub. (Forget it, Luke. It's Chinatown.) All the while, charismatic Statham growls tough-guy lines like "When I'm done, you won't even be a memory of a memory." Fortunately, the movie nods at its own absurdity, most notably when Luke and the mayor's minion go mano a mano.

Less successful is the redemption subplot and emotional connection between Luke and Mei. When he confesses to her, "You saved me," you cringe and hope someone starts shooting again soon.

The 180—a Second Opinion: Relying heavily on clichéd characters and racial stereotypes, Safe is such a paint-by-outdated-numbers actioner it could be a Luc Besson production.

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