Starring: Jason Statham, Robert John
Burke, Chris Sarandon, Anson
Mount, Catherine Chan
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 98 minutes
Distributor: Lionsgate Films
Director: Boaz Yakin
Executive Producer: Stuart Ford, Brian
Kavanaugh-Jones, Kevin Spacey,
Producer: Lawrence Bender, Dana Brunetti
Writer: Boaz Yakin
Address Comments To:Jon Feltheimer, CEO
Lionsgate Films AKA Lions Gate Films
2700 Colorado Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Phone: (310) 449-9200; Fax: (310) 255-3870
Statham plays Luke Wright, a former, despondent New York City policeman named Luke Wright. Luke has to fight off Chinese and Russian gangsters as well as corrupt fellow cops to protect and save Mei, an 11-year-old Chinese girl. The Chinese gangsters and their violent ways have corrupted Mei’s spirit. They have taught her that cold-blooded murder is part of doing business. Mei also has an amazing ability to memorize numbers. It turns out she has memorized the codes for a $30 million criminal transaction. So, the Chinese gangsters and their Russian rivals each want to kidnap and control her, or kill her before she can give information to the other side.
Luke races across New York City with Mei, with the gangsters chasing them. While they do this, numerous plot twists unravel amid endless action.
SAFE marks a wildly entertaining ride for adult action movie fans but is absolutely too intense for children and younger teenagers. Writer-director Boaz Yakin exercises surprising and admirable restraint in numerous scenes, leaving some of the violence to viewers’ imaginations. However, on two occasions, Chinese gangsters kill a man and then a woman in cold blood in two point-blank shootings in front of the young girl, who has to learn to trust Statham and lose her jaded attitude over the course of the movie.
SAFE is a gritty movie set in a dark world. However, it has an impressive moral undertone, with a brief, but poignant, overt and positive reference to Jesus Christ. There’s also an implied reference to a silent prayer being answered. Luke is driven to help Mei at direct risk to his own life. It also becomes clear he’s been driven to expose corruption whenever possible, even when looking the other way would benefit him greatly.
Not only does Luke help Mei, but Mei also helps Luke.
After leaving the police force, Luke was forced to earn money in professional kickboxing. In the movie’s beginning, some Russian gangsters want him to throw a fight, but he refuses. The gangsters kill his wife and threaten to kill anyone else he gets close to, including his landlady, unless he commits suicide.
Luke goes to a homeless shelter and gives a man with horrible feet problems his own shoes to wear. The man twice tells Luke, “Jesus loves you.” The next morning, however, the man is dead by morning, his throat having been slit. Luke ends up crying over this sad event. He stumbles into the subway and looks up to Heaven as he contemplates suicide by jumping in front of a train. At that point, the sight of the lost and scared little girl, with some Russian gangsters closing in on her, makes him reconsider. He tells the girl, “You saved me, and now I have to save you.” Thus, her vulnerability and need gives Luke a new purpose for living.
[SPOILERS ALERT] In the end, the young girl has to shoot a villain in order to save them both. Luke gives the Chinese back their $30 million rather than keeping it and enriching his own life like other action heroes might have done. He tells them to leave him and the girl alone forever in exchange for the money. The hero and child drive off together, with the understanding that he will raise her and the two will form a peaceful, happy life together.
The mix in SAFE of superb action scenes with a clear moral purpose provides a one-two combination that mature fans of action movies will enjoy. Be forewarned, however, that SAFE has abundant foul language and intense violence. Overall, SAFE is highly entertaining viewing, but extreme caution is warranted for the violence and foul language.
SAFE is a gritty movie set in a dark world. However, it has an impressive moral tone, with a brief, but poignant, positive reference to Jesus Christ. Luke is driven to help Mei at the risk to his own life. It also becomes clear he’s driven to expose corruption whenever possible; even when looking the other way would really benefit him. Overall, SAFE is highly entertaining, but extreme caution is advised for the movie’s violence and abundant foul language.