Safety Can’t Make Contact on Disney+ Streaming
Written By Matthew Sadowski
Safety stars Jay Reeves as Ray McElrathbey, a freshman at South Carolina’s Clemson University. Though he received a sports scholarship to join the renowned Clemson Tigers football team, Ray insists on taking as many classes as he can. Unfortunately, Ray immediately has difficulty juggling the demands of the Tiger’s brutal training regimen and the classwork of his difficult courses. Tragically, his mother (Amanda Warren) is sent to 30-day rehab after a relapse, leaving Ray’s much younger brother Fahmarr (Thaddeus J. Mixson) guardianless. Ray decides to take care of Fahmarr and hide him in the school dorms, but the extra responsibility only exasperates the student-athlete’s problems. Ray must decide if his school and career or his brother should take priority.
Although all of the performers clearly had a lot of care for the story and give very earnest performances, there is a distance between what we are allowed to really see and what we are being visually told. The performances are sadly never supported by the framing, almost all dialogue exchange being shot in painfully conventional shot/reverse shots. Even during some of the emotional moments, there are very few close-ups where the sadness and stress of Ray can really come through. When Fahmarr has to stay with him, there is still little difference in how their scenes are shot compared to everyone else’s. We hear in the dialogue how difficult everything is, and we can imagine how much more frustrating Ray’s situation must be, but good looks at his reactions are few and far between.
There is a truly intimate moment we share with Ray early on as he sits in the locker room, weeping silently after realizing that he was not selected to be a starter. But even this heartbreak does not have as much weight as it could have; aside from a lot of practice scenes, we only ever get to see one game and feel that thrill of victory he desires for ourselves. The occasional action sequences are very well put together, but aside from Ray’s personal struggles, there isn’t much context to it all. The season has clearly been going on for some time, but we never even hear how the team is doing. After the movie ended, Disney+ suggested that I watch Remember the Titans, and I was reminded of how exciting and moving the studio’s other sports dramas can be.
Directed by: Reginald Hudlin
Starring: Jay Reeves, Thaddeus J. Mixson, Corinne Foxx, Matthew Glave, James Badge Dale
Streaming on: Disney+