Robot and Frank: an aging jewel thief with dementia strikes up an unlikely relationship with his disability “death machine” robot helper – and re-ignites his criminal career. Frank is a great character; grumpy, witty, cheeky… a hard bunch to juggle and still keep the audience sympathetic. It would have also been too easy for Langella to over-cook his performance, but his chops are superb – it’s best thing I’ve seen him in, and great to see older actors / aging issues at the heart of a movie. Other than the slightly downbeat ending it’s a film that manages to stay charming, enjoyable and amusing for the duration. It’s also rrrrather quirky, but not in a ridiculous way. Surprisingly well-judged for such a pure-bred indie movie.
Safe: a former cage fighter has to save a gifted child from falling in to the hands of the Triads, Russian mobsters or bent cops. So here we are, another Statham action vehicle where he can kick ass, forget about the names and we all walk out of the cinema satisfied. Action-wise, there’s a few really good, bone-crunching – grab your arm / leg / nuts and shout ‘fuuuuu’ – fight scenes, however the biggest set-pieces are big, loud, well-handled, gunfights. Gruff Statham is as gruff as he can be, although his character is all over the shop: ex binman, ex cage-fighter, ex cop, potentially more dangerous… make up your mind! Other characters are all very dated action film stereotypes: Asians being either angry triads or good at maths; tattoo’d Russian gangsters called Petri and Sergi, and ruthless bent cops who will do anything for some cash-money. The story is just as ridiculous, but who really cares – it’s an action film, with plenty of action and a stunningly high body count. Other notes would be a groovy / old-fashioned soundtrack popping up in places, an Audi with Infinite boot space, New York looking shittier than ever, and the Americanized delivery of the line “I don’t collect garbage, I dispose of it”. Although I walk in to every Statham flick hoping he’ll pull a JCVD on us, Safe ends up being a pretty safe action film about a robbing a safe and keeping a girl (and the audience) safe. Sure it packs a punch and delivers some thrills, but it’s not even remotely interested in doing anything new or original, and neither is Statham at the moment.