DVD+Digital: In defense of the Jason Statham movie | Arts
INDY Week's arts blog

Archives | RSS | Follow on

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

DVD+Digital: In defense of the Jason Statham movie

Posted by on Tue, Sep 4, 2012 at 11:08 AM

Professional tough guy Jason Statham's new film SAFE — new to DVD, Blu-ray and digital this week — is not a very good movie. But it's not a bad one either, and it illustrates nicely the many reasons that Statham is the best action movie star working today.

In Safe, Staham plays Luke Wright, a mobbed-up punching bag on the mixed martial arts circuit. When Luke makes a costly mistake in a rigged fight, the Russian Mafia kills his family and hands down a baroque punishment: Luke will be watched for the rest of his life, and anyone he befriends will also be killed. Russian mobsters — what can you do?

Meanwhile, we meet 11-year-old Chinese math prodigy Mei (Catherine Chan), who has been kidnapped by New York City's criminal Triads to serve as their “counter.” Mei can track numbers better than any computer, and she doesn't leave any paper trails.

Will Luke and Mei team up? Will Luke's mysterious past come into play? Will Mei offer him a road to redemption?

Safe is predictable in its broad strokes, but that's part of the deal with movies like this and director Boaz Yakin (Remember the Titans) has some fun playing with the form. First off, he avoids any cheap sentimentality between Luke and Mei. Safe is reminiscent at times of Luc Besson's French thriller The Professional, which featured a similar relationship between Jean Reno and a young Natalie Portman.

Yakin also strips the action story down to its chassis — this movie is built for speed. After the initial exposition, Safe is essentially one long chase sequence as Luke and Mei outrun Chinese gangsters, Russian psychos and a corrupt NYPD squad.

But the director's best move is simply letting Statham do what he does best. As an action hero, Statham provides the whole package. He can handle himself in a fight scene — Statham has trained in martial arts and does most of his own stunts. He projects those qualities we want in an action hero: resolve, competence, decency. And he looks great. The man can fill a sweater.

But Statham also brings intelligence and subtle humor. He know that his movies are mostly ridiculous, and there's a slight wink and nod in everything he does. Sometimes not so slight — consider his very fun 2006 film Crank, which takes action tropes into hallucinogenic realms.

For my money, Statham's best movie is The Bank Job, a British caper film set in 1970s London. Statham leads a huge ensemble cast to tell the real-file story of London's infamous Baker Street Robbery, which was supposedly covered up by authorities. (According to legend, the stolen loot included compromising photos of Princess Margaret.) Criminally underrated, The Bank Job is in the pantheon of great heist films.

As for Safe, it's one of those movies that plays better at home than at the cinema. I don't know that I'd want to burn an evening out on Safe, but it's a perfect movie for a night on the couch, when you want to turn off your head and eat a lot of something you shouldn't. It's a comfort movie, really.

Also New This Week:

Of the many great TV series tangling up America's DVRs and weekends, HBO's BORED TO DEATH stayed mostly under the radar during its three-season run. The story of a writer-turned-private-detective, Bored To Death is a great showcase for the comic superteam of Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson and Zach Galifianakis. Season Three comes out this week on DVD, Blu-ray and digital. Also look for season collections from HBO's HUNG and HOW TO MAKE IT IN AMERICA.

Adrien Brody and Colin Hanks headline the tetrahydrocannabinol comedy HIGH SCHOOL, in which the class valedictorian tries to mask his drug test results by getting the whole school stoned. Hijinks ensue.

From the Wayback Machine, the award-winning 1990s PBS kids show THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS has been issued to DVD in single-episode discs, three-packs and a box set compiling all 52 episodes over eight discs. If you want to get a jump on your holiday shopping, it's nutritious TV for the little ones.

Plus: Jason Segel and Emily Blunt in The Five-Year Engagement, the 9/11-themed festival favorite 8:46, the horror spoof Piranha 3DD and TV-on-DVD season series collections from 2 Broke Girls, Fringe, Grey's Anatomy, Haven, The Office and Parks & Recreation.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Pin It


Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Arts

Twitter Activity


Thanks for the nice article and acknowledgement, Byron. I would like to put a gentle dedication out to my father, …

by RKlem on Common Ground Theatre Is Gone, But Some of Its Resources and Its Role Live on in Walltown Children's Theatre (Arts)

Most Recent Comments

Thanks for the nice article and acknowledgement, Byron. I would like to put a gentle dedication out to my father, …

by RKlem on Common Ground Theatre Is Gone, But Some of Its Resources and Its Role Live on in Walltown Children's Theatre (Arts)

I thought it was a great movie. The acting was believable, special effects were good, story was balanced and the …

by Cat Jackson on Movie Review: In King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Guy Ritchie Gets Medieval on Our Collective Asses (Arts)

Revitalization = Gentrification and a mentality that says the area needs to be made great again. I don't get how …

by John Curtis Smith on Op-Ed: Revitalization Without Gentrification: The Scrap Exchange in Durham’s Lakewood Neighborhood (Arts)

I haven't seen the movie, so I won't comment on the reading of the documentary. Just want to say that …

by Max Brzezinski on Full Frame: Dina Is Earning Acclaim for Its Portrait of Love and Autism. But Is It Illuminating or Exploitative? (Arts)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation