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Originally published Thursday, April 26, 2012 at 8:44 AM

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Movie review

'Safe': Evil people behaving very badly get a good, hard pounding

A movie review of "Safe," an effective action picture in which a huge number of irredeemably evil people get exactly what's coming to them. Courtesy of Jason Statham's grim reaper.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 3 stars

'Safe,' with Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, James Hong. Written and directed by Boaz Yakin. 95 minutes.

Rated R for violence, language. Several theaters.

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Let no man say that "Safe" traffics in mindless megaviolence.

Oh, there's violence, all right. And it sure is mega. Watch, as Jason Statham depopulates the criminal underworld of New York, dozens of evildoers at a time.

But mindless? Nah. Mind you, "Safe" is not, by any means, brainy. Shattered tracheas and bullet-shredded spleens are not the products of deep thinking. But writer-director Boaz Yakin does take his time — the picture's first half-hour — to carefully set the stage and thoughtfully provide the justification for the havoc that is to come.

He does so by introducing a huge cast of irredeemably evil people and shows them behaving very, very badly. There are Russian mobsters who slaughter the wife of Statham's character in the movie's opening minutes. There are the Chinese gangsters who abduct an 11-year-old math genius (Catherine Chan) and threaten to kill her and her family if she doesn't memorize a complicated mathematical code that holds the key to their crooked operations. The gang's old-school leader (James Hong) believes such secrets are better entrusted to a terrified girl than to a computer that can be hacked.

And then there are the cops, corrupt and kill-crazy, who are playing both sides against each other.

Terrible, terrible people. And they all get exactly what's coming to them. Good and hard.

Courtesy of Statham's grim reaper — who does not like malefactors who murder his beloved, just hates thugs who terrorize little kids and positively loathes crooked cops (he's an ex-cop himself).

Let the bullets fly. Let the bodies fall. Let a man who was grieving and suicidal rise up and wreak rough justice. And boy is it rough. And ever so satisfying.

Soren Andersen:

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