Safe (Blu-ray + Digital Copy)
Directed by Boaz Yakin
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 95 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 English
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish
MSRP: $ 39.99
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Review Date: September 2, 2012
Having once been an undercover detective on the way up, Luke Wright (Jason Statham) made enough enemies on and off the force to lose everything and end up as an MMA fighter working for peanuts in B-level New Jersey brawls. Russian mobsters kill his wife and make him an untouchable threatening to kill anyone he even strikes up an acquaintance with to keep him effectively contained. Meanwhile, an eleven-year old Chinese mathematical genius with a photographic memory Mei (Catherine Chan) has been brought to New York to work for the Chinese mafia. She’s memorized a code that will lead the gangsters to a $30 million payday and is on her way to memorize another code which unlocks a safe with delicate political information on a disc when she’s abducted by the Russian mob and manages to escape. When Luke realizes she has some murderous thugs on her tail, he forgets his own situation and begins to move heaven and earth to save her. And once he finds out what she knows, he realizes he has a powerful piece to play in this game involving the NYPD, the Chinese and the Russian mafias.
The film’s first third is by far the best as we watch both Luke and Mei in their unhappy individual pursuits while the hands of fate eventually bring them together. Afterwards, writer-director Boaz Yakin’s script devolves into a cat and mouse chase which features regular stops for fisticuffs and extended gunplay (a lot of people bite the dust in this movie), all rather standard stuff especially for a Jason Statham movie. It isn’t that it’s not entertaining, but we’ve seen it all before both from the brawny action star and from contemporaries in films with much larger budgets and much more stylistically told. The New York City location filming adds great atmosphere to the movie; you can almost breathe the New York City air and feel the warm gusts whooshing up from the subways, and the action and stunts are all professionally staged and shot. But when the time comes to pull a surprise or two on the audience, the big reveals aren’t all that shocking, and the film’s big bad Alex Rosen (Anson Mount) whom we’ve waited ninety minutes to see square off against Statham’s Luke (a rather tame replay of the standoff between former friends in, say, Goldeneye) couldn’t be more anticlimactic.
The movie does allow Jason Statham some small amount of emotional leverage in addition to the brawling and expert marksmanship he displays throughout, and he certainly hides his British brogue with a respectable Yankee accent. Catherine Chan does respectably as Mei, but she’s not an especially charismatic child actor and doesn’t play up her precociousness at all. Robert John Burke as a corrupt captain of police does his usual sterling job though Chris Sarandon as Mayor Tramello has less effective material to work with. As Mei’s new, ruthless Chinese “father,” Reggie Lee is very effective, and James Hong as head of the Chinese mafia, the kind of role he’s done in countless films and television shows, makes his expected good impression. Sandor Tecsy and Joseph Sikora as tough Russian mafia chiefs also occupy their roles distinctively.
The film’s 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio is delivered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. There is much detail to be seen in this exceptionally sharp and clear transfer, and even with some uneven color timing, images are solid and realistically pictured. Flesh tones are true to life and contrast has been dialed in to perfection. Black levels are good but just a few shades from optimum. Subtitles when they are used are always easy to read. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix is an exceptional aural achievement. With the soundstage expertly used to create a three dimensional soundfield with lots of discrete sound effects and pans across and through the soundstage, you couldn’t ask for a more immersive sound experience. Mark Mothersbaugh’s driving music score gets a thorough spread in the fronts and rears, and dialogue is always intelligible even amid the hail of bullets that frequently ping around the various channels. The LFE channel is also kept quite busy in this marvelous mix.
The audio commentary is by writer-director Boaz Yakin. If you want to save some time, watch the three video featurettes which basically repeat almost everything he has to say about making the film in a much briefer time period. He has an engaging voice, however, so those who really enjoyed the movie will want to hear the director’s enthusiasm for the project.
All of the bonus video features are presented in 1080p.
“Cracking Safe” is an 11 ¾-minute piece which basically introduces the major players on the production crew: director Boaz Yakin, producer Lawrence Bender, star Jason Statham, and stunt coordinators J.J. Perry and Chad Stahelski (who was also second unit director). Each has a few minutes to discuss the 47-day shoot on a smaller budget than most action pictures get.
“Criminal Background” finds director Boaz Yakin introducing us to the film’s three separate gangs of antagonists: the corrupt NYPD cops, the Chinese mafia, and the Russian mob. This runs 8 minutes.
“The Art of the Gunfight” explains the difficulties of shooting in New York City and how certain chases and gunfights were staged. Once again, in addition to director Boaz Yakin, stunt coordinators J.J. Perry and Chad Stahelski are on hand to explain their jobs on the project. This runs 10 minutes.
There are promo trailers on the disc for The Hunger Games, Man on a Ledge, and Haywire.
The case also contains an identification code for a digital copy/Ultraviolet copy of the film.
3/5 (not an average)
Safe really does play it safe through much of the movie relying on standard action movie tropes instead of developing its two wonderfully creative central characters in a more untraditional way. The Blu-ray features near-reference video and audio quality and a movie that will offer a quick adrenaline rush if unfortunately no lingering after effects.