Safe (2012 film)
|Directed by||Boaz Yakin|
|Produced by||Lawrence Bender |
|Written by||Boaz Yakin|
|Starring||Jason Statham |
Robert John Burke
|Music by||Mark Mothersbaugh|
|Editing by||Frederic Thoraval|
|Studio||IM Global |
Lawrence Bender Productions
Trigger Street Productions
|Release date(s)|| |
|Running time||95 minutes|
|Box office||US$40,346,186 |
Safe is an action film written and directed by Boaz Yakin and starring Jason Statham. Statham plays an ex-cop and former cage fighter who must protect a gifted child who is being chased by the Russian mafia, Chinese Triads, and corrupt New York City police.
Ex-cop cage fighter Luke Wright (Jason Statham) unintentionally wins a fixed fight he was supposed to lose, angering Emile Docheski (Sándor Técsy), head of the Russian mafia. As punishment, Docheski's son Vassily (Joseph Sikora) and his men kill Wright's pregnant wife, then tell him they will be watching him and killing anyone else he talks to regularly, even his landlady. Luke leaves his life behind, becoming a homeless anti-social tramp.
Around the same time Mei (Catherine Chan), a Chinese primary school student, is tapped to attend a special school for the gifted due to her genius-level math skills and photographic memory. Later that day she is kidnapped off the street by men working for Triad boss Han Jiao (James Hong), who has learned of the girl's talent. Han wishes to use Mei as a human computer to eliminate his criminal enterprise's traceable digital footprint. He sends her to New York City in the care of his man Quan Chang (Reggie Lee), who will now become her "father."
One year later, Mei has become integrated into the Triad's New York operations, providing running tallies of profits and losses, and even being forced to watch brutal executions carried out by Quan. Han arrives from China with a very long number, asking Mei to memorize it. Once she does and the original is burned, she is then told she will be taken elsewhere to get a second number. However, on the way the vehicle is ambushed by Russian mafia; Mei is taken by the Russians and brought before Emile, who demands the number from her. Mei refuses, but before they can further interrogate her the police arrive and surround the building, sent by the corrupt Captain Wolf (Robert John Burke) after being tipped off by Han. Mei escapes through the bathroom window in the confusion and makes her way to a nearby subway station, the Russians not far behind her.
At the same subway station, Luke contemplates throwing himself in front of the train, but stops when he sees the obviously distressed Mei. When he recognizes Chemyakin (Igor Jijikine), one of the men who killed his wife, and sees that Mei is hiding from them, Luke boards the train. After some effort he catches up with the Russians, knocks most of them out and kills Chemyakin. Mei flees at the next stop, only to be stopped by two corrupt detectives working for Wolf. Luke arrives and incapacitates the detectives, convincing Mei of his good intentions before he is forced to flee when more Russians arrive. After a chase Luke manages to ambush the Russians and kill them.
Luke purchases a suit and rents a room at an upscale hotel using one of the dead Russians' credit cards. He asks Mei why she is being chased, and Mei explains about the number, elaborating that there are too many reoccurring numbers for it to be random. Mei thanks Luke for saving her, but he says that she saved him (from not jumping in front of the train). Luke makes a copy of the number. Shortly after the Chinese arrive at the hotel, having found Mei using a tracking device placed in her phone. Luke fights his way with Mei towards the exit, but Mei is grabbed by Quan during a gun battle. Luke escapes, while Mei is taken back to Han.
Across town, Captain Wolf meets with Mayor Danny Tremello (Chris Sarandon), who has learned that Luke is involved. He cautions Wolf about Luke, explaining that he was not just a cop, but a government "cleaner" responsible for numerous black operations carried out against criminal organizations in the New York area. Luke's life of exile is not one of necessity, but rather of atonement for the things he did in the employ of the government.
Luke uses Chemyakin's phone to call Vassily, pretending to be the dead Russian and explaining (in perfect Russian) that he survived and has the number. Vassily arranges a meet at a nearby restaurant. Luke arrives, dispatches the numerous Russians at the restaurant and kidnaps Vassily. He then calls Emile and offers Vassily's safety in exchange for knowing what is in the safe Emile is after, explaining that he has deduced that the number Mei has memorized is actually an encoded combination for a safe. Emile reveals that the safe has $30 million in it, but that it is heavily guarded, and that he has no idea what is in the safe that goes with the second combination Mei was to retrieve.
Needing a team to get to the safe, Luke calls Wolf and his detectives, who meet him outside an underground Chinese gambling hall. After they agree to split the money evenly between the six of them, Luke burns his written copy of the number in front of them, explaining that he is now the only person who knows the combination to the safe. The six then raid the club, shooting their way through numerous armed Triad members, losing two of their own in the process (one betrayed by Wolf himself). Luke has everyone place their guns on the ground, then starts to work the dial. Wolf and his detectives try to grab their guns just as Luke enters the last number; Luke wounds Wolf and kills his remaining detectives, then has Wolf open the safe. The two leave with the cash.
With money in hand, Luke calls the Mayor, who gives him the number of his press secretary (and boyfriend) Alex Rosen (Anson Mount), the architect of the combination exchange deal and another government "cleaner" who once worked with Luke. Alex reveals that the other safe holds a disc containing the names, account numbers, and other information on almost all criminal organizations operating in New York. Luke agrees to give Alex the money in exchange for Mei, and tasks Alex with retrieving her. Alex arrives at the meet with the Chinese as expected and then quickly kills them, pausing before killing Quan to suggest Mei close her eyes. Mei continues to look on, and Alex snaps Quan's neck as she watches. Meanwhile, Luke sneaks into the Mayor's office and holds him at gunpoint, reasoning that the Mayor wouldn't trade away the only copy of the disc and demanding he give him the other copy. The Mayor complies, and Luke knocks him out and leaves with the disc.
Alex and Luke arrange to meet at "the old place", a disused dock where the two used to dispose of bodies. Alex holds Mei at gunpoint and asks Luke where the money is, but Luke says that if he wants to know he'll have to "do it the hard way". The two slowly set their guns on the ground and face-off to fight, but before they do, Mei grabs Alex's pistol and shoots him in the leg, disabling him long enough for Luke to grab his pistol and kill him. Luke thanks Mei for saving him again. She replies, "We save each other."
In the aftermath, Luke gives Captain Wolf $50,000 "for [his] troubles" and asks him to bring Vassily back to his father unharmed, but not before warning Vassily that if he or his father ever come after him again, he will not hold back. He sends the remainder of the money to Han along with a note from Mei. In it, Mei promises to pay back the missing money with interest, but also reminds Han that she knows every account number for his Chinatown operations and the way the money is routed back to China, concluding with, "come after us... and your world ends." Han leaves for China in disgust, vowing never to set foot in New York City again. Luke leaves copies of the disc in several locations throughout the city to be released in case anything happens to him or Mei, ensuring their future safety. He then tells Mei he has found a school for gifted kids in Seattle, but tells her he wouldn't be a good father. She says, "I don't want no more fathers. Will you be my friend?" He answers, "'til my dying day." She asks him, "Are we safe?", and he replies "One day at a time, Mei, one day at a time."
- Jason Statham as Luke Wright
- Catherine Chan as Mei
- Chris Sarandon as Mayor Tremello
- Robert John Burke as Captain Wolf
- James Hong as Han Jiao
- Reggie Lee as Quan Chang
- Danny Hoch
- Danni Lang as Ling
- Igor Jijikine as Shemyakin
- David Kim as Triad #1
- Anson Mount as Alex Rosen
Safe was announced on May 6, 2010. The film is the first in a three-film distribution deal between IM Global (who also produced and fully financed) and Lionsgate, the other two being Pete Travis' Dredd and Simon West's Protection. Lawrence Bender Productions, Trigger Street Productions, Automatik Entertainment, and 87eleven Action Design also produced.
On a $30 million budget, principal photography took place from October to December 2010 in Philadelphia and New York City. Filming scenes in Philadelphia on Broad Street was done on the nights and early mornings of November 17, 18, and 19. A class from a Catholic School in downtown Philadelphia was used for a scene depicting a class in China.
Safe has garnered mixed reviews from critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 57% of critics have given the film a positive review, with 57 being positive out of a total of 100 reviews counted. The site's consensus says that "while hard-hitting and violently inventive, Safe ultimately proves too formulaic to set itself apart from the action thriller pack – including some of its star's better films." Peter Travers, the film critic for Rolling Stone, gave the film 2 stars out of a possible 4, and said that "the trouble with Safe is that you know where it's going every step of the way". He also added that "Between the fists, kicks, bullets, car chases and broken trachea, the movie could have milked the sentiment of that relationship until you puked. But Statham and the scrappy Chan play it hard. The restraint becomes them. Statham is still playing it safe in Safe, but vulnerability is showing through the cracks.". Claudia Puig of USA Today gave the film a moderately positive review, saying that "Yakin's slick direction, marked by quick cuts, unstinting energy and a lack of sentimentality, makes the action scenes satisfying," but thought the dialogue was "riddled with clichés." Robert Abele of the Los Angeles Times scored the film 3/5, saying "Yakin gives his star plenty of room to look mean, think fast, drive faster, punch, quip, mow down and charismatically bond with the most imperiled child character in screen memory."
 Home media
Safe was released on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital on Demand on September 4, 2012.
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- Official website
- Safe at the Internet Movie Database
- Safe at AllRovi
- Safe at Box Office Mojo
- Safe at Metacritic
- Safe at Rotten Tomatoes