By Jeffrey Anderson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Tween's presence makes violent action movie more upsetting.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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.
Violence & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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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.
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Products & Purchases
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.
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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.
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Videos and Photos
Based on 2 parent reviews
Stereotypical racist comments
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loved it :)
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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's screenplay is taut and clever and might have been turned into a decent movie. He's 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. 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.
Talk to Your Kids 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?
- In theaters: April 27, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: September 4, 2012
- Cast: Catherine Chan, Chris Sarandon, Jason Statham
- Director: Boaz Yakin
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence throughout, and for language
- Last updated: June 2, 2023
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