Archive for the Jason Statham Category

PARKER (2013)

Posted in 2013, Action Movies, Crime Films, Gangsters!, Jason Statham, Michael Arruda Reviews with tags , , , , , , on February 5, 2013 by knifefighter

By Michael Arruda

 PARKER poster

It’s all about the rules.

In PARKER (2013), the latest action flick starring Jason Statham, super thief Parker follows a strict code of rules which he expects others to follow as well.  As he tells his friend Hurley, if he lets people break their promises to him, he’ll lose all credibility.  In Parker’s world, if you say you’re going to do something, do it, because if you don’t, he’ll hold you accountable.

In the film’s opening sequence, Parker (Jason Statham) and his associates rob a country fair.  Parker assures the hostages that if they do exactly as he says, they won’t get hurt, and he means it.  He’s a thief with honor.  Too bad the same can’t be said of his partners.

During the getaway, one of these partners, Melander (Michael Chiklis) informs Parker that rather than split the money they just stole as originally planned, he wants to use it to fund a bigger job, a job that will pay them millions, down in Palm Beach, Florida.  Parker wants no part of this, since this wasn’t part of the original agreement.  Those rules again.  This doesn’t sit well with Melander and his three buddies, who are all into the job, and so they shoot Parker and leave him for dead by the side of the road.

But Parker is quickly rescued by a passing farmer and his family, who take him to a hospital.  Parker regains consciousness and immediately escapes from the hospital, making his way to his friend and mentor, Hurley (Nick Nolte), to learn more about the guys who betrayed him.  Hurley warns Parker to leave these guys alone, because they have powerful friends in the Chicago mob, but Parker dismisses the warning and vows to get both vengeance and his money.

Parker travels to Palm Beach in search of Melander and his goons, and he hooks up with a real estate agent, Leslie Rodgers (Jennifer Lopez), under the pretense that he’s a rich Texan looking to buy a home in Palm Beach, when in reality he’s searching for the home Melander has bought as his hideaway, where he and his men can lay low for a while after they pull off their diamond heist.

Hot on Parker’s trail is an assassin sent by the Chicago mob, a killer who also has on his hit list Parker’s girlfriend, Claire (Emma Booth), who happens to be Hurley’s daughter.  Things grow more complicated when real estate agent Leslie figures out what Parker is up to, and reveals to him that she’s sick of her life, which is going nowhere, and that she wants to help him find Melander for a cut of the money.

Parker accepts her help, and together they search for Melander and try to thwart his diamond heist caper, all the while remaining a step ahead of the mob assassin.

While some of the plot points in PARKER don’t make a lot of sense, this is a case where the movie as a whole is better than the sum of its parts, and this is because of the presence of Jason Statham.

I’ve heard complaints that Statham always plays the same role, and that he lacks charisma.  In terms of playing the same role, I think most action stars, from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Clint Eastwood, play variations of themselves in their movies.  I don’t have a problem with this, as long I like their personalities.

Statham is colder than most, much closer to Eastwood’s persona than a guy like Schwarzenegger, but it works for me.  I also find Statham believable in these roles.  When he beats up the bad guys, I totally buy it.  When he survives bullet wounds and knife wounds, I believe it.  Why?  Because he looks like the unstoppable supermen he’s portraying.

Not only don’t I have a problem with Jason Statham, but I think he’s one of the better action stars making movies today.

PARKER, directed by Taylor Hackford, a guy who’s been making movies for a long time, is a slick-looking production, easy on the eyes, and it includes some decent fight scenes, although none of them will knock your socks off.  There’s one nasty bit when Parker battles the mob assassin, and a knife goes through his hand.  I’m also happy to say that most of the blood in this one looked realistic, as it wasn’t the CGI style blood we’ve been seeing so much of lately.

PARKER is based on the novel by Donald E. Westlake, who wrote a series of novels featuring the Parker character.  John J. McLaughlin wrote the screenplay, fresh off writing the screenplay for HITCHCOCK (2012), and it’s here where the movie runs into its share of problems.  While there’s plenty of decent dialogue in the movie, the actual plot, although enjoyable, does have some issues with credibility.

For starters, when Melander first decides to kill Parker, he orders his wimpiest man to do the job, to walk to the side of the road and put a bullet in Parker’s head.  This made no sense to me.  Send your best guy, for crying out loud!  It’s obviously just a way to have Parker survive.  Worse yet, we have to believe that this shooter standing over Parker at point blank range somehow missed, or at least failed to inflict a fatal wound.  This is one plot point that I didn’t buy at all.

Also, the whole storyline with the Jennifer Lopez character, Leslie, didn’t really work for me.  She shows up late in the movie, and we’re asked to believe that she’s a loser in a dead end life.  Really?  It’s difficult to picture Jennifer Lopez as a loser, a woman desperate enough to buddy up with a violent thief, as if that’s the answer to her problems, and worse yet, we’re supposed to believe that Parker would accept the help of an amateur.  Not buying any of it.

Plus, it’s a wasted relationship since Parker is clearly involved with Claire, who continuously shows up to patch up his wounds and bruises.  It’s not really a love triangle because Parker is never interested in Leslie.

Then there’s the diamond heist that Melander plans.  It’s so improbable, yet so bold, that I wanted to know more about it.  I found myself wishing the film was more about the plans to pull off the job, because it was far more interesting than anything Parker was doing.  Screenwriter McLaughlin probably avoided the details here because it was such a far-fetched impossible plan.

The cast is okay.  You can’t go wrong with Statham, but Jennifer Lopez is miscast in what turns out to be a thankless role.  The other drawback here is that Statham and Lopez don’t really share a lot of onscreen chemistry.  Statham has more chemistry with Emma Booth as Claire, and I wish she had been in the movie more.  She was a more interesting character than Lopez’s Leslie.

Michael Chiklis runs hot and cold as bad guy Melander.  At times, he’s sufficiently bloodthirsty and ruthless, and other times he’s just plain dumb, like when he sends his weakest guy to kill Parker. Duh!

Daniel Bernhardt also makes for an ineffective assassin, Kroll, who’s supposed to be the best killer in the Chicago mob, yet he can’t even kill Parker’s girlfriend Claire, as she runs circles around him and easily escapes his clutches.

PARKER is one of those movies where the more you think about it, the more you realize it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but while you’re watching it, you don’t care because the film as a whole, and Jason Statham in particular, both pack a punch.

So, in spite of its flaws, I found PARKER to be a hard-hitting movie that showed some oomph and displayed an edge, even when stuck in a story that didn’t always work. I also enjoyed the character of Parker, brought to life by a convincing Jason Statham.

For me, believability is key, and when Parker says “you’ll get hurt if you don’t do what I say,” I believed him.

I give it three knives.


© Copyright 2013 by Michael Arruda

Michael Arruda gives PARKER ~three knives.



Posted in 2012, Action Movies, Buddy Movies, Cinema Knife Fights, Heroic Warriors, Jason Statham, Kung Fu!, Sequels, Sylvester Stallone! with tags , , , , , , , , on August 20, 2012 by knifefighter

By Michael Arruda


(The Scene: A beat-up military plane which has seen better days, flying low over a South American jungle. At the controls sits MICHAEL ARRUDA. Next to him with a cigar dangling from his mouth is L.L. SOARES.

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  We’ve reached our target. You’d better tell the rest of the team to be ready. It’s show time!

L.L. SOARES (bangs on door behind them):  Okay, people, look sharp!  We’re going in.

(CUE Dramatic military music. The door on the side of the plane opens. Into the doorway, wearing a parachute appears NICK CATO with his name superimposed on the screen in big bold letters. He leaps from plane. He’s followed by PETE DUDAR, MARK ONSPAUGH, DAN KEOHANE, JOHN HARVEY and COLLEEN WANGLUND, each with their names emblazoned on the screen and a dramatic beat of music as each makes their appearance. Finally, the camera settles on MICHAEL ARRUDA & L.L. SOARES as they prepare to bail, with their names also in massive letters on the screen, followed by the huge, larger-than-life title:


(End opening titles)

MA:  Say, there’s only one parachute left.

LS:  You don’t need no stinkin parachute!  (He grabs parachute and leaps from plane.)  Sucker!

MA:  Gee, thanks, you no good cigar-chomping critic!  (addresses camera)  Well, I guess this is it. It’s been a nice ride.

On the other hand, who says I have to go down?  This is a plane. It has landing gear. I’ll just find a nice spot to land, and I’ll be all set.

(Looks below to see thick forest and mountains everywhere.)

MA:  Well, who says I have to land here?  (looks at fuel gage which reads EMPTY.)    Would you believe this is a new-fangled electric plane with a long-life battery?  I didn’t think so. (flies over a large body of water). Would you believe this is a seaplane?  Actually, it is a seaplane!

(Crash-lands plane on water. Gets into a lifeboat and paddles towards shore.)

MA:  That wasn’t so bad after all. I’ll catch up with those guys eventually. In the meantime, I’ll review today’s movie, THE EXPENDABLES 2 (2012), Sylvester Stallone’s action-packed sequel to his 2010 summer hit, THE EXPENDABLES.

If you like thunderous explosions that’ll blow out your eardrums, and guns the size of cannons, then THE EXPENDABLES 2 is the movie for you. There’s so much testosterone in this one, they’ve called for a congressional hearing.

In THE EXPENDABLES 2, Sylvester Stallone returns as Barney Ross, the leader of a group of misfit mercenary soldiers known as The Expendables. The group includes Ross’s right hand man, Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), as well as Gunner (Dolph Lundgren), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), Toll Road (Randy Couture), and newcomer Bill The Kid (Liam Hemsworth of HUNGER GAMES fame, and younger brother of Thor—er, Chris Hemsworth).

Ross is once again hired by the mysterious Mr. Church (Bruce Willis), this time to locate a missing safe which contains extremely valuable contents. Church adds a new team member to Ross’s group, a safe expert named Maggie (Nan Yu.)

It’s supposed to be a routine caper, but—surprise! surprise!—before they can finish the job, the Expendables are intercepted by a force greater than their own, led by an evil villain named Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme). Vilain is one cold-hearted bastard, and after he forces Ross and his group to hand over the contents of the safe to him, he brutally kills one of Ross’s men.

Quicker than you can say “revenge,” the plot of the rest of the movie is set into motion, as Ross

and his team vow to avenge their friend’s death, get back the contents of the safe, which is valuable because it has to do with weapons-grade plutonium, and completely annihilate Vilain and his forces in the process.

But this is easier said than done. Vilain commands an entire army, and so Ross and company need some help along the way, and they get it from some old friends, Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Booker (Chuck Norris). Even the mysterious Church comes out of the woodwork to lend a hand, setting the stage for the massive concluding battle which puts Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Norris, and Willis together on the big screen in an eye-popping ear-splitting finale that is a dream come true for the 1980s action movie fan!

I have to admit, I really enjoyed THE EXPENDABLES 2. I enjoyed the original EXPENDABLES as well, but that one left me a bit disappointed. For all its collective action-star firepower, the action sequences in the first one weren’t that memorable, the plot was rather flat and silly, and the villain a dud. All of these items have been improved upon in the sequel.

The movie opens with a blast, as its riveting pre-credit action sequence is better than any of the action scenes in the original.

Stallone, who directed the first one, turned over the directing duties to Simon West this time around, and I think this was a good decision because the action scenes here have more oomph and are much more high octane than what we saw in the original.

(A speed boat pulls up next to MA, and it’s driven by SYLVESTER STALLONE.)

STALLONE:  Are you saying I’m too old to direct an action movie?

MA:  I don’t know if you’re too old, but this sequel does seem to have more energy about it.

STALLONE:  I’m not too old!  (He speeds away.)

MA:  If I had to guess, I’d say Stallone’s still got plenty of juice left to make movies like this, but nonetheless, director West does a nice job here.

THE EXPENDABLES 2 also has a better story than the original, a better script by Stallone and Richard Wenk, and better use of the film’s stars.

(STALLONE’s speed boat returns.)

STALLONE:  So, I’m not too old to write?

MA:  I never said you were too old.

STALLONE:  That’s good, because I don’t think I’m too old, if you know what I’m saying.

MA:  Yes, I know what you’re saying.

(STALLONE speeds away again.)

MA:  Where was I?  Oh yes. If you go see THE EXPENDABLES 2 to enjoy this collection of action stars do their thing, you won’t be disappointed as these guys all have generous screen time.

(MA reaches land. He ditches the life boat and begins walking through the jungle.)

MA:  It goes without saying that the impressive cast assembled here is a lot of fun, and the script seems to give each of them key moments to savor and enjoy.

Sylvester Stallone is still damned believable as an action star.

(Wielding a machine gun, STALLONE runs by MA).

STALLONE:  Glad to hear I’m not too old to act!

MA:  Not at all!  Even at your age, 66, you still look ripped.

STALLONE:  I’ll kick Van Damme’s ass!  (Disappears in jungle.)

MA:  Rocky is still going strong, and in his climactic bout vs. Van Damme, it’s believable that he could take everything that Van Damme dishes out.

Jason Statham is also enjoyable once again as Lee Christmas, though his screen time is slightly diminished here to make room for the extra time given to the other big name players. I like Statham a lot, and I’ve become a fan over the past several years. He and Stallone share an affable chemistry on screen, and they really do seem like friends.

Even Dolph Lundgren gets to enjoy some fun moments, as the story reveals that in spite of his size and brawn, he’s also a Fulbright scholar with an advanced science degree.

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis both have more screen time than they had in the original, and they get to play a large part in the film’s explosive conclusion. They also get to poke fun at themselves. Schwarzenegger seems to say “I’ll be back” every time he has a line, and at one point Willis complains. “You’re always coming back. I’ll  be back!”  To which Schwarzenegger replies, “Yippee-ki-yay!”

Chuck Norris plays things straighter than Willis and Schwarzenegger, but still gets to enjoy some decent screen time. Nan Yu is also very good as newcomer Maggie.

But the best performance in the movie belongs to Jean-Claude Van Damme as Vilain.

Van Damme plays Vilain as one icy cold dude, and he’s one of the better screen villains I’ve seen in a while. He has to be. He’s up against nearly every 80s action star on the planet. It seems a bit unfair. As formidable as Van Damme is, the numbers are clearly stacked against him. Perhaps Stallone should have cast some 80s villains to team up with Van Damme to make things a bit more even.

Even so, Van Damme rocked, and he easily delivered the best performance in the movie. The intense hand-to-hand battle between Van Damme and Stallone during the film’s conclusion is worth the price of admission alone!

THE EXPENDABLES 2 won’t leave you feeling ripped off or cheated. It delivers the goods and then some.

In spite of its R rating, THE EXPENDABLES 2 is free of any “F-bombs” and the violence, while bloody, is strictly of the neat video game variety. It’s as unrealistic looking as it comes. The film as a whole has a larger-than-life comic book feel to it. Never once do you feel as if Stallone and his men are in danger. They shoot, their opponents die. The bad guys shoot, and Stallone and friends remain untouched. In fact, that’s how you can tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys in this movie. The good guys hit everything they shoot at, while the bad guys can’t hit a damn thing!

I didn’t mind this though. It just added to the fun, in a Bugs Bunny sort of way.

THE EXPENDABLES 2 is a wildly entertaining thrill ride that doesn’t attempt to be anything more than what it is, an exciting action movie that’s full of gargantuan weapons, thunderous explosions, and larger than life characters.

It’s easily one of my favorite movies of the summer, and I give it three knives.


Hey, I’m finally here!

(Walks by a sign which reads “Welcome, Cinema Knife Fighters to GuerillaCon!”  Sees his fellow Cinema Knife Fighters sitting behind a table on a panel. The audience is comprised of men, women, and zombies dressed in military fatigues.

ZOMBIE raises his hand and stands up to ask a question.)

ZOMBIE:  As a zombie myself, I found the movie’s interpretation of zombies completely unrealistic. I don’t know where Romero got the idea that we can’t run!

SOLDIER IN AUDIENCE:  Who cares about that crap?  All we want to know is, how many heads get blown off in the movie?

MA:  Well, here’s where I say so long. Time for me to join the panel.

LS:  Hey, it’s Mike Arruda!  What took you so long?  What did you do?  Crash the plane or something?

MA:  As a matter of fact, I did.

LS:  You goober!  Didn’t you know it was on autopilot and programmed to land right outside this building?

MA:  Er— of course I knew. I just wanted to man up and rough it. This is a review of THE EXPENDABLES 2 after all. Autopilot?  Who needs an autopilot?

(Suddenly SYLVESTER STALLONE stands next to MA.)

STALLONE:  What’s the matter?  Too old to land a plane?

MA:  I made out okay.

STALLONE:  But the plane didn’t.

MA:  So, is there going to be an EXPENDABLES 3?

STALLONE:  Dunno. I’m not getting any younger. (smiles)

MA:  I hear Steven Seagal might be available—.


© Copyright 2012 by Michael Arruda

Michael Arruda gives THE EXPENDABLES 2 ~three knives.

SAFE (2012)

Posted in 2012, Action Movies, Jason Statham, Michael Arruda Reviews with tags , , , , , on May 6, 2012 by knifefighter

By Michael Arruda

(THE SCENE: A New York City subway station.  A train has just arrived, and passengers are stepping on and off the train.  MICHAEL ARRUDA approaches.)

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  Welcome to another edition of CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT.  I’m flying solo today, as L.L. Soares is off on another assignment.

(Cut to L.L. Soares at his home in bed sleeping the night away.   He suddenly opens one eye.)

L.L. SOARES:  What is it?  Hmm.  Am I supposed to be some place?

(Closes eyes again)

(Cut back to MA at the subway station.)

MA:  Today I’m reviewing SAFE (2012), the new action thriller starring Jason Statham.  I like Statham a lot, as he makes for a very believable action hero, even in the most unbelievable circumstances.  That being said, I didn’t like SAFE quite as much as his previous efforts, BLITZ (2011) and KILLER ELITE (2011).

When SAFE begins, Luke Wright (Jason Statham) is a down-on-his-luck trash collector moonlighting as an amateur boxer.

MAN PASSING BY:  That’s pretty unbelievable!

MA:  Yes, well, did I say that one of the flaws of this movie is it strains credibility?  However, to its credit, SAFE does do a nice job of eventually explaining some of the plot points that at first don’t make a lot of sense.

Luke inadvertently upsets members of the Russian mob when he knocks out an opponent they had big money on.  In retaliation, the Russians murder Luke’s wife, but they don’t murder Luke.  Instead, they tell him that they’ll kill everyone he knows, everyone he talks to, starting with his landlady if he doesn’t bolt from his home by morning.  In effect, they are completely isolating Luke from the world, and they tell him he can end it all by killing himself.

Meanwhile, a young Chinese girl Mei (Catherine Chan) has been abducted by the Chinese Mafia because of her genius-like ability to memorize numbers.  She is brought to the United States where she works for the slimy Quan Chang (Reggie Lee) and his boss “Uncle” Han Jiao (James Hong).  When Mei is entrusted with an incredibly long and highly important number to memorize, she is abducted by the Russian mob who want the number for themselves.

To the rescue comes—.

WOMAN PASSING BY:  Jason Statham?

MA:  Not yet.  To the ”rescue” comes corrupt members of the New York City police department led by Captain Wolf (Robert John Burke) who also want the number, and suddenly there’s the makings for a war on the streets of New York City.  Somehow, Mei escapes from both the Russians and the police—.

BOY:  That’s not very believable.

MA:  Yes, I know.

BOY:  How does she escape?

MA:  Well, she literally walks out the back door.  Anyway, pursued by both the Russians and the police, she escapes to a subway station much like this one, where it just so happens that Luke is there, having hit rock bottom, and he’s about to kill himself.  However, he sees young Mei being pursued by Russian thugs, and like a true hero, decides to save her.  He follows them onto the train where he single-handedly kills all the thugs and whisks Mei away to safety.

At this point, I’m scratching my head wondering how a garbage collector can so easily wipe out heavily armed members of the Russian mob?  Luckily, it’s also at this point that we learn that Luke isn’t really a garbage collector, but a former member of the New York City police department, and he’s not just a former cop, but a former “special agent” who was called in after 9/11 to help make the streets of New York City safe, no questions asked.  That’s why Luke has been so depressed over the years, because he’s been allowed to do some nasty things to some nasty people.

BOY:  Now I get it.

MA:  Good.  Now run along.  (Boy doesn’t move).   Don’t you have some place to go?

BOY:  No.  I want to stay here and listen to you.

MA (shrugs):  Suit yourself.

Luke and Mei bond pretty quickly, and soon she’s divulging the secret of the memorized numbers to him.  It doesn’t take Luke long to figure out that the numbers are a code, and as soon as he deduces what the code is for, he and Mei are off and running, trying to stay one step ahead of the Chinese, the Russians, and the corrupt cops, since these guys want the numbers as well and don’t care if they have to kill him and Mei to get it.

There’s no shortage of action in SAFE.  In fact, SAFE is so full of “shoot-em up” action sequences with loud booming guns you might find yourself wishing you had some earplugs.  This is one movie where you won’t be falling asleep.

(Cut to LS in bed.  He’s now awake.)

LS:  Man, this doesn’t seem right.  I could have sworn there was something I was supposed to be doing right now.

(CUT back to MA at the subway station.)

MA:  The presence of Jason Statham in the lead keeps this one on track, although as I said, the plot is convoluted and unrealistic at times, and a key moment in the movie doesn’t ring true, so ultimately SAFE is never as good as it should have been.

As much as I appreciated the stylish action sequences, there’s a minimum amount of bloodshed.  Even though SAFE is Rated R, the violence reminded me a lot of the James Bond movies, where the hero, a la Bond, faces 20 guys and you know they’re all going to die and he’s going to emerge without a scratch.  This can be fun, but in a movie like SAFE, where the villains are some rather unsavory characters, I was hoping for something a little more disturbing.

BOY:  I love James Bond movies!

MA:  Me, too, but this one would have definitely been better had it been darker.

GIRL:  What are you guys talking about?

BOY:  Shh! He’s reviewing a movie!

GIRL:  How rude!  (She walks away)

MA:  Thanks, kid.

MA:  The major plot point that didn’t work for me occurs when Statham’s Luke has hit rock bottom and he’s about to commit suicide at the subway station.  When he sees Mei being chased by the Russian thugs, he intervenes, saves her, and becomes her protector.  He later says he did this because she saved him.  What does that mean?

(Behind MA, the GIRL is suddenly jumped by a bunch of thugs who start harassing her.)

MA:  I know what it’s supposed to mean, that at his lowest point, she gave him a reason for living, but I didn’t buy it here.

I can see him smelling a rat and saving her from the Russians, but afterwards, he becomes so connected to her so quickly, I dunno.  I didn’t quite buy this.  He just didn’t seem like the type of guy who wanted to have a kid around.

(The thugs suddenly throw the girl to the ground and start beating her.)

BOY:  Excuse me, mister?  Mister?  That girl—-.

MA: Not now, kid.  I’m reviewing a movie.

BOY:   But she’s getting beat up!

MA:  No, she doesn’t get beat up.  Statham saves her.

BOY (rolling eyes):  Not the girl in the movie!  That girl!  (points)

(There is suddenly a lot of screaming behind MA and the BOY, and they turn to see that the GIRL has donned her HIT GIRL costume and now she’s beating the crap out of the thugs.)

MA:  Go, Hit Girl!

HIT GIRL (to thugs who are all on the ground moaning):  Is that all you’ve got?  What a bunch of pussi—!

VENDOR:  —Cats!   Cats for sale!  Cats!

(MA & the BOY exchange glances.)

MA:  Anyway, the audience I guess is just supposed to accept the fact that because Mei is a little girl, Luke has a soft spot for her.

There are also a few scenes that really stretch credibility.  In one such scene, for example, Luke kills the gang of Russian thugs on the subway in brutal fashion, in front of a crowd of passengers.  He then forces the passengers off the subway train, and as they go running off screaming, they run right by several police officers without saying a word, and Luke just walks off the train without incident.  You mean not one person cries to the police for help or points out that the guy who just murdered a bunch of men on the train is walking right behind them?  Come on!

Jason Statham is excellent once again in this movie.  The thing I like most about him is he is very believable as an action hero, and I believe it when he beats the crap out of a bunch of bad guys, even if in this movie, he’s put in situations that are a bit too unbelievable, a la James Bond.

Catherin Chan who plays Mei is okay, but she didn’t wow me, and I didn’t think she and Statham shared a whole lot of chemistry.

The rest of the cast is very good.  Robert John Burke plays the corrupt police captain, Captain Wolf, and he’s excellent.  Reggie Lee makes Quan Chang sufficiently slimy, and James Hong is chilling as “Uncle Han.”  These folks talk nicely to Mei but you know they would kill her in a heartbeat, if necessary.

Chris Sarandon is also on hand as the corrupt Mayor Tremello—yep, about the only guy not corrupt in this movie is Statham’s Luke—and he makes the most of his brief scenes.  Anson Mount plays Alex, another super killer who, the mayor mentions, is the one man capable of stopping Luke.  Mount turns in a nice performance, but much to my disappointment, the anticipated fight scene between the two super killers never happens, which I thought was a major letdown.

SAFE was written and directed by Boaz Yakin.  Yakin gets higher marks as a director.  The action sequences are all slick, fast, and well-executed, and the movie is fast-paced and fun.  The story, on the other hand, is a bit convoluted, which is too bad, because a tighter story, with a darker undercurrent, would have made SAFE a more satisfying movie.

It’s not bad though, as the script does eventually explain most of its loose ends, and there are some neat twists and turns along the way, such as when Luke turns to Captain Wolf and his corrupt officers for help when he needs to overpower the Chinese.

While I had fun watching SAFE, I would have enjoyed it more had it been more deeply rooted in reality.  Ultimately, in terms of violence and story, this one drops the ball and simply plays it safe.

I give it two and a half knives.

BOY:  It sounds pretty good.

MA:  Yeah, it’s not bad.  I think most action fans will like it.  Thanks for listening, kid.

BOY:  You’re welcome!  (leaves).

MA:  Well, that wraps things up from here.  Until next time— (feels his pants pocket)  What the—?  My wallet’s gone!  That kid swiped my wallet!  Hey kid!  Come back here!  Hey, Hit Girl!  A little help?

(CUT to LS in bed.)

LS:  Now, I remember what it was I was supposed to be doing!  (gets up and sits in front of his computer.)  I had some fiction to write.  (Turns to camera)  What did you think I was forgetting?  You didn’t really think I’d forget a movie assignment, now, did you?


© Copyright 2012 by Michael Arruda

Michael Arruda gives SAFE ~ two and a half knives!