Let’s not quibble about this fact – Adrien Brody is a cool muthatrucker. Even in this film where he plays a substitute teacher. Really? Have you ever seen a cool sub? But this drama isn’t about cool teachers; it’s about the destitution of inner-city schools and the lumping of kids into a demographic where individuality is lost. Brody is a broken man who fights for what is right. He roves like Gandhi, offering peaceful resistance and kindness to those who need it. Directed by Tony Kaye, who looks like a crazy genius – Kaye has a history of not holding back when dealing with teens, just look to one of his early films, “American History X,” for evidence. The red-headed, hourglass bombshell from “Mad Men,” Christina Hendricks, costars and James Caan has a rousing role as a teacher who’s gone cage-crazy. Get attached to this one, because it’s worth a watch.
Jason Statham excels at kicking ass. His demeanor, the way he walks and talks cries out “British-Badass.” But he’s not a lug-head action star. In some of his previous films, he’s shown an aptitude for comedy and drama. This isn’t one of those kinds of films. This is a bone-breaking, body-bruising, bullets blasting, bloody kind of film. And it’s kind of awesome because of it. People could say that they dumb-downed what could have been a very complex plot. People could say that the scenes which allow us to connect with these main characters are missing. People could also catch a beatdown from Mr. Statham. The first time Statham jumps out of a second story window and uses a bad-guy to break his fall or propels himself across a room, using his body as battering-ram while cleaning out the clip of his nine-millimeter – you’ll forget all about the other stuff and go along for the ride. “Safe” is anything but – worth a watch.
Sometimes when filmmakers go out of their way to make a social statement, the statement gets lost in the middle of a sucky film. This suspense-thriller starring Luke Wilson and Samuel L. Jackson takes on the current economic recession. Wilson plays a man down on his luck. And Jackson plays some sort of fury-bearing hitman. Here’s the problem – Jackson has done this before and better. Wilson plays a down-and-out guy in every movie he’s done. And this loser du jour isn’t even in his top ten of his loser performances. And the story doesn’t help matters, as it’s confusing and forgettable and it’s been seen before. It feels like a TV movie. So, it should come as no surprise that director Chris Fisher is a TV veteran. “Meeting Evil” should’ve met a “No!” from the studio – pass.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge