In Safe, Jason Statham's newest action movie (that somehow manages to look exactly like all his other action movies), the perpetually gruff Brit plays Luke Wright, a former MMA fighter whose family is killed by Russian mobsters, leaving him with nothing more to live for. Until, that is, he has a chance encounter with Mei (Catherine Chan), a 12-year-old math prodigy on the run from Chinese Triads, corrupt NYPD officers, and those same Russian gangsters. Turns out they're all after the combination to a safe that Mei has memorized (and that gives the movie title its double meaning).
So, over the ensuing hour and a half, Luke does what Statham does best: protect Mei by punching, shooting, and crashing through rival gangs, crooked cops, and the better part of at least two boroughs. This isn't the first time the British action hero has been called on for bodyguard duties (see: the Transporter trilogy). But since his ends-justify-the-means methods often trend towards large-scale mayhem and wanton destruction, it got me thinking: Would you really be appreciably safer under Jason Statham's care?
As a public service, we broke down who might want to seek out Statham's help, and who might want to seek cover.
Safe writer/director Boaz Yakin is pretty clear on this one, considering the majority of the film's opening is spent reinforcing just how unsafe it is to even so much as talk to Luke. After accidentally winning a fight he was supposed to lose, apparently murdering his wife wasn't punishment enough for the Russian mob, so they warn Luke that they'll also kill anyone he befriends in the future. And since their definition of "friend" is more liberal than others', this also seemingly extends to small talk and random acts of kindness. Even his landladies are threatened by Luke's sheer presence, forcing him into homelessness.
And the rest of Jason Statham's film friends haven't fared much better over the years. For a guy who usually plays a tight-lipped loner, his characters have always gotten by with a little help from his friends -- whether they're doctors, mechanics, fellow assassins, or whatever Efren Ramirez was supposed to be in Crank. Given their impressively high mortality rate however, you might want to reconsider sending that Facebook request.
His Love Interests:
As you might have guessed, things don't work out so well for Statham's on-screen wife in Safe. And not to heap on the guilt or anything, but getting involved with mobsters doesn't seem like a very responsible move for someone with a wife and kid on the way. Especially when you're a former professional-assassin-turned-super-cop-turned-cage-fighter. (It's an eclectic resume, even for an action hero.)
But that's not the only reason Mrs. Wright should've seen it coming. She could've watched Death Race (or In the Name of the King). Because when it comes to a Jason Statham movie, promising to love him "for better or for worse" usually means "worse." Girlfriends, however, have fared only marginally better; and any leading lady looking at the former male model as potential arm candy should probably also plan on accessorizing with a bulletproof vest. To know Jason Statham may be to love him, but it's also to be shot at.
Verdict: Ultimately safe, as long as you don't put a ring on it.
With its broad-daylight shootouts and indiscriminate attitude towards upping its body count, innocent bystanders don't fare too well in Safe. But oddly, it's restaurant patrons who bear the brunt of the collateral damage. In a little under 24 hours, Luke manages to get unsuspecting diners shot at, used as hostages and otherwise ruin their nice night out in not one, but two restaurants (to say nothing of what he did to the restaurants' Yelp ratings).
Unlike the rest of his painful past, we don't get any helpful clues as to what Luke has against fine dining, but I don't think it's a coincidence that when he finally eats, someone else gets him take-out.
Verdict: Unsafe. Grab the check and a take-out container as quickly as possible.
After Safe, I'm betting Jason Statham isn't going to get many requests to watch people's kids for a few hours. And while you could definitely do better in the A-lister babysitter department (I hear Vin Diesel's got great references), the man does get the job done, whether it's protecting Mei, or the little boy in Transporter 2. Sure, his methods may seem slightly extreme -- like, say, driving the wrong way down a busy one-way street while taking heavy gunfire -- but at least he always makes sure kids wear their seat belts.
To be fair, the MPAA wouldn't let you get away with exposing your own kids to the amount of R-rated bloodshed Mei witnesses thanks to Luke. But considering her adopted Triad father is prone to pairing her home-schooled business lessons with execution-style headshots, we're thinking child protective services would probably see Luke as an upgrade.
Verdict: Safe. Just like the title promises.
As we saw with the Crank movies, not even his own heart is all that safe around Jason Statham. He's leveled city blocks, destroyed more cars than we can count, and put countless henchmen on worker's comp. But as long as you're not expecting much more out of Safe than Transporter 4 with an R-rating, you're in relatively good hands. Once again, Statham moves through a familiar plot and kicks the requisite amount of ass, while Yakin layers on the generic grit. Just about the only real danger in Safe comes from being forced to listen to its painful dialogue.
Overall Verdict: A little too safe.