Our very own Dylan wrote something that really resonated with me in regards to my man Jason Statham, and it becomes an even more pressing question after seeing his most recent offering, Safe:
“Am I crazy for wanting…more from this guy?”
No, boss. You’re not crazy.
I love me some Statham. I have dropped down many dollars to see run of the mill action flicks that go up a grade just because of his presence. I think the Transporter series, while flawed (mostly in its selection of villains and female side characters) is ridiculously entertaining. His character in the first Expendables gave one of the more memorable beat-downs in recent memory (the fight scene on the basketball court) and I look forward to what he brings to the sequel. A look at his box office success shows that he has a devoted fan base but not a very large one (his highest solo effort is Transporter 2‘s $43 million) which actually brings to mind another one of my favorite filmmakers, Kevin Smith, who also hovers around the $30 million mark. But at this point in his career, I can’t help but think that he needs a Die Hard to actually belong alongside the likes of Willis, Stallone, and Arnold.
Safe is just as the title suggests. Statham plays Luke Wright and I would describe him but I bet you can probably figure it out on your own. He actually spends the first half hour or so being the exact opposite of a Statham character; he, for lack of a better word, wallows. Sure, it’s justifiable (he is an MMA fighter who doesn’t throw a fight like he was supposed to and a Russian mob decides that killing his pregnant wife is his punishment) but there’s one point where you’re thinking, “Alright, this is where Statham is gonna kick some ass!” and all he does is sit there. It’s weird. Then there comes a point when he’s about ready to jump in front of a train because he’s so sad. But something happens. A little Asian girl walks by (as if this is a bizarre happening in NYC). This piques his interest and then when he sees that she’s actively hiding from some very familiar looking Russians, he decides to take it upon himself to help her out.
This little girl happens to be a human computer used by a Chinese gang to transport a very long number. She gets kidnapped, escapes, gets kidnapped again but by someone else, and runs around with Statham when he saves her. She’s very important.
And it’s around the halfway point where things begin to get convoluted. The cops are involved with both the Russian and the Chinese gang (naturally) and just when you think the corrupting has reached its ceiling, somebody higher up on the totem pole is talking on the phone with a bad guy. And I think that was my biggest problem with Safe: there was no set villain. And I think this is where my idea of Statham needing a Die Hard-type vehicle comes in. If he was able to battle a classic bad guy (a la Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber) then he could get more people to come out and support him.
Jason Statham is a hero in search of a worthy adversary.
Overall, Safe is decent as far as action movies go. Statham has some great lines and the new ways he is able to create beat-downs on screen is impressive (my favorite in this one was his use of a dinner plate like a frisbee). But really, it’s only for the biggest fans of the man in the poster. You can catch it on FX in about 6 years and you’ll be just fine, much like a lot of he stars in, and this makes me sad, because he is one of the most awesome action stars out there. It’s too bad that it sounds like Statham won’t be joining the sixth Fast and the Furious movie (as a villain!) because maybe that would be what he needs to take it up a notch. Either way, I hope that there comes a day when I can praise the film that he stars in and not just his presence in it.
And that’s the “more” that I want from Jason Statham. And just like our co-founder, I don’t feel like it’s too much to ask.