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Action star Jason Statham has built a legion of enthusiastic fans for his charismatic portrayals of hard-boiled men in favorites like ‘The Transporter’ series, ‘The Italian Job’ and ‘The Expendables’. But audiences will experience a new depth of his talent in writer/director Boaz Yakin’s new action-thriller, ‘Safe’.
Statham brings a gritty, haunted intensity to Luke Wright, a former NYPD cop cum second-rate cage fighter whose wife has been murdered and his life destroyed by the Russian mob. With nothing to live for, Luke finds himself on a subway platform, staring at an oncoming train and contemplating suicide, a moment of hollow-eyed despair that Statham inhabits fully.
“Luke is probably in the lowest position he could ever be in his life,” explains Statham. “He’s about to commit suicide. He’s ready to throw in the towel and there’s nothing worth living for. That’s how we first meet him.”
But before Luke can end his misery, a chance encounter changes the course of his life and sends him down a path of brutal violence…and possibly redemption.
His unlikely savior is a ten-year-old Chinese math prodigy named Mei. Kidnapped by Triad boss Han Jiao for her flawless numerical memory, Mei has been brought to America and forced to act as the organization’s “human ledger,” thereby eliminating the need for incriminating financial records of any kind. But the information Mei holds in her memory is also coveted by the Russian mob, and a botched abduction attempt sends her on the run…and right into Luke’s path.
“Mei actually saves me,” says Statham. “I won’t explain how or we’d give too much away, but she’s being chased by the Russian mafia, the same guys who are responsible for murdering my wife.”
‘Safe’s writer/director sees the film as a relative rarity among action movies: an all-out genre piece that is powered by a full-blooded emotional core. “This is a film about a guy who has lost everything in his life,” says Yakin, “and through this chance encounter, he finds a reason to live again. This little girl is in need and this broken character finds a way to help her.”
From the project’s inception, Yakin and his producer, Lawrence Bender, agreed Statham was the actor who could embody Luke’s gritty physicality and also capture the depth of his grief. “I’ve always been so impressed with how dynamic Jason is, what a big presence he has on screen,” says Bender. “He has this unwavering authenticity to his characters.”
“This is a film where Jason is in his wheel house,” adds Yakin. “He plays a tough guy, and with the stunts and the action he’s meticulous to a crazy degree. But this is a much more vulnerable character than he usually plays. He really went for it and I think that’s going to surprise people.”
“Jason’s very focused, very concentrated in what he’s doing,” adds Bender. “At this moment in the story, Luke is completely empty inside, just blank, a black hole. His pain is so severe that he can’t even allow himself to feel it. Jason portrays that void brilliantly.”
Image Courtesy of SAFE