Director Reginald Hudlin helms a crowd-pleasing family flick in his latest film Safety. Inspired by the empowering story of former Clemson University football safety Ray McElrathbey (Jay Reeves), a young man facing a series of challenging circumstances, whose dedication and persistence help him to triumph over repeated adversities. Aided by his teammates and the Clemson community, he succeeds on the field while simultaneously raising and caring for his 11-year-old brother Fahmarr (Thaddeus J. Mixson).
I’ve never been a fan of real-life sports, but I’ve always loved seeing football in the world of cinema. Coupled with one of my favorite film genres, the biopic and I was excited to see what Safety had to offer. Jay Reeves was one of the highlights of All American Season 1. When his character died, I hoped the actor would show up in another role soon.
Reeves portrays the role with undeniable confidence of a young man looking to come into his own as an athlete who is forced to step up and become a man. I respected the angle that screenwriter Nick Santora took with the script and the slow build for Ray’s arc. When we meet Ray, he’s not a superstar but working hard to get his spot. There’s also great chemistry with Fahmarr (Thaddeus J. Mixson). The young actor portraying Fahmarr has many great one-liners, and I hope to see more of him in the future.
The rest of the supporting provide solid work with the standard character templates found in sports films. Corrine Foxx (daughter of Jamie) is the love interest. James Badge Dale is the stern but caring coach, and Hunter Sansone is the comic relief roommate.
Kudos to the filmmakers for focusing more on Ray’s real-life story and less on the football aspect. Yes, there are football practice scenes, but if you’re expecting tons of monumental game moments, then you may be a little bit upset. However, when football does arrive, it’s more than worth the wait. Naturally, there’s a moment where Ray has to stand up to the NCAA. Still, Hudlin’s handling and direction of the severe issues will put a smile on your face.
Mixing quality football scenes, an excellent Hip Hop soundtrack, and great performances, Safety is fantastic family entertainment in these uncertain times. Yes, the film follows a formula, but Hudlin knows how to deliver the Disney magic with ease.
Final Grade B+
Safety is available to view now on Disney +