* (out of four)
Considering he always does a competent, virtually identical combination of transporting and ass-kicking, Jason Statham never deserves blame for movies that routinely function as well as a construction crew that works blindfolded. Nor does the action hero warrant particular praise on the rare occasion one of his brain dissolvers delivers actual fun, rather than just a literal or theoretical death race.
In “Safe,” Statham plays Luke, another thug with a heart of gold in yet another story of Russian goons and Chinese goons and corrupt cops and you should have already stopped caring by now. Luke’s attempt to protect 11-year-old, super-intelligent Mei (Catherine Chan) recalls the 1998 Bruce-Willis-protects-a-code-breaking-boy-with-autism vehicle “Mercury Rising,” a movie I didn’t see but occupied myself trying to remember while Luke was busy punching and shooting in the many sub-standard action sequences writer-director Boaz Yakin coughs up between lines like, “Let’s go to war.”
He also despicably shoves the pre-teen girl’s face in violence whenever possible and needlessly makes the crooked cops racist (“They all look alike to me,” one says when trying to figure out if he’s come into contact with the young Chinese girl). The guys may be played by the most average looking schmoes you’ve ever seen, but none of this trash deserves to lick the boots of other movies capable enough to be called average.
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