8:00 PM, 7th September, 2012
Two clowns, one bleeding profusely, are in a car chase, being pursued by cops, somewhere near the USA-Mexico border. There seems to be a lot of money in the car. One clown removes his mask, revealing himself to be Mad Mel. In typical spectacular Lethal Weapon style, Mel launches the car over the border, only to find himself at the mercy of the Mexican authorities. This does not make his predicament any easier.
And all this in the first five minutes of the film.
Yes, Mad Mel is back in the movies. Despite his questionable personal life choices, Gibson does know how to make a good silly action/heist/buddy movie (and one suspects that, despite giving the directing job to his assistant from Apocalypto, Mel probably had a lot of input, in the name of 'training'). There are plot-holes aplenty, and it looks like it was shot on the cheap, but it's still a whole lot of fun, with shoot-outs, crazy plans that somehow come off and shady characters everywhere. Throw in a love interest, a tough-but-still-precocious kid and enough bad-asses to populate all four Die Hard films, and you have a formula for a barrel-load of Friday night fun!
9:51 PM, 7th September, 2012
Mei (Chan) is a young numbers whiz with a photographic memory who's taken from her family and brought to New York, where she's enslaved by a Chinese Triad boss (Hong) with a disdain for computers and data trails. But when word gets out that his 'niece' is tasked with memorising the combination to a safe containing 30 million dollars, Mei immediately becomes a target for everyone from the Russian mafia to dirty cops and even a corrupt mayor (Sarandon).
Lucky for her, Luke Wright (Statham) also happens to be having a bad day. A disgraced cage fighter and ex-cop whose family was murdered by mobsters, Luke has been wandering the streets haunted by guilt. Finally pushed to the brink of suicide, he heads to a subway station to end his suffering, but is stopped short when he witnesses Mei being chased by the same gangsters that destroyed his life. Rescuing her on impulse, he quickly becomes her only protector in an all-out war with New York's entire criminal underworld.
While the cinematic value of Statham's films may be admittedly questionable, there's no denying they're usually good fun, and Safe is up there with the best of what is surely a sub-genre of its own by now (Stath-action films?). A refreshing return to the gritty, old school action flicks of the 70s, the film is a terrific showcase for all of Statham's talents - with plenty of fighting, driving, wisecracking and tough-looking staring - making for an adrenaline-pumping, rollicking good time at the movies.