Tween's presence makes violent action movie more upsetting.
  • Review Date: April 28, 2012
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 94 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The main character finds a new lease on life when he learns to care for and protect a young girl. He sees her as a person, whereas other characters are simply after her extraordinary math skills. Unfortunately, in his journey, he kills dozens of men without consequence. There's also some cultural stereotyping, and a character momentarily considers suicide.

Positive role models

The main character has only one worthwhile attribute: He protects a young girl. Otherwise, he's destructive, violent, and cynical. All of the other adults in Safe constantly put the girl in danger.


The violence would be on par with other action movies except for the fact that a 12-year-old girl witnesses dozens of brutal beatings, shootings, and killings and is herself very often in danger. She even picks up a gun herself to shoot a bad guy. The main character used to be a cop and is now a cage fighter.


The main character's wife is killed off screen during the first few minutes of the movie, and viewers never see them together. No sex talk or innuendo, either.


Several uses of "f--k," plus sporadic uses of "a--hole," "son of a bitch," "s--t," "damn," "hell," "scum bag," "goddamn," "d--k," and "balls." "Chink" is used as a racial slur.


An iPhone is used prominently but not mentioned by name. A package of M&Ms is visible in the background in a hotel mini-bar.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The main character seems to have a drinking problem during a down-and-out period -- he keeps sneaking drinks from a flask. But as the action increases, his drinking stops. Other characters are seen drinking socially in bars. The mayor drinks whisky in his office.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Safe would be a pretty standard Jason Statham action movie if not for the fact that a 12-year-old girl is present for the movie's dozens of brutal beatings, shootings, and killings -- none of which result in any real consequences for the "good guys." Language isn't constant but does include strong words like "f--k" and "s--t," as well as some racial slurs and cultural stereotyping. The main character seems to have a drinking problem during the first half of the movie, but he's easily able to give it up as the action increases.

What's the story?

Luke Wright (Jason Statham) used to work as a special agent for the NYPD, but now he's a lowly cage fighter who angers the Russian mob by not taking a fall. Ruined and desperate, Luke starts to think about suicide when he spots 12-year-old Mei (Catherine Chan) on the run from Russian thugs. A mathematical genius who's being held prisoner by the Chinese mafia to keep their books, Mei has escaped with a special numerical code that's desperately wanted by the Chinese, the Russians, and a band of dirty New York cops. It's up to Luke to protect the girl, play the bad guys against one another, and solve the secret of the code.

Is it any good?


Filmmaker Boaz Yakin has created a new riff on the old Red Harvest/Yojimbo story of a lone stranger playing two warring families against one another, upping the stakes by adding a third group and the little girl character. His screenplay is taut and clever and might have been turned into a decent movie. But behind the camera, Yakin puts a great deal less thought into his story. He constantly makes the basest and most vulgar choices, starting with the horrible, shaky, nausea-inducing camerawork, which ruins the fight scenes. 

Then there's a general queasy feeling you get watching poor little Catherine Chan involved in all these violent sequences, when, in real life, she wouldn't -- and shouldn't -- be allowed to see the finished film. Finally, Statham has chosen to cover up his usual English accent with a fake New York one, which serves to erase some of the charm that's usually associated with his characters. Overall, SAFE is terribly glum and resolutely average.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Safe's violence. Is it harder to take given the presence of 12-year-old Mei? Does it have more impact than superhero-style action violence? Why or why not?

  • Did you notice any stereotypes in the movie? Why do filmmakers fall back on that kind of storytelling/characterization?

  • Can Luke be considered a role model in this movie? How does this role compare to Statham's usual image as an action star?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 27, 2012
DVD release date:September 4, 2012
Cast:Catherine Chan, Chris Sarandon, Jason Statham
Director:Boaz Yakin
Run time:94 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong violence throughout, and for language

This review of Safe was written by

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 17 years old Written byPeopleschamp1995 August 15, 2012

Not for kids

It's ok kindve intense
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Adult Written bydarthsitkur December 28, 2012

loved it :)

just finished watching this a while ago and I loved it, tons of crazy action, one of the best action movies ever, and the best scene in the whole movie is the big shootout in the nightclub, that was freakin amazing lol
Kid, 10 years old February 20, 2014

I saw this movie when I was 9 years old and I don't remember seeing a lot of blood.

This movie has lots of violence and profanity. To give an honest review, this movie is fine for ages 13 and up. I'd think it was only R for too much language. There is some drinking. There is no sexual content. So if you know your kid well and he is a action-movie fan. Let him or her see this movie. I can't believe Common Sense Media said it's an iffy choice for 17-year-olds! I saw this movie at half that age! If you're going to say Riddick is an iffy choice for 17-year-olds which it is, don't say that about this movie.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing


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