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Movie Review: Homefront

November 23, 2013

Among Jason Statham movies, Homefront is right above the middle: It does what you’d expect, but it does it a bit better than what’s been done before.

Statham is Statham, so he’s the secretive outsider with his own code of ethics, and everyone around him is obsessed with violating that code. It’s not much different from The Transporter series or Parker, which came and went without struggle earlier this year in that it provides a venue for Statham to whollop, whomp, blow up, and canoodle with the film’s other residents. He still has his accent. He still kicks ass. He still has that weird charisma that really has yet to be explored.

Specifically, here he has a hit put on him by the drug-lord father of a kid who died in a DEA raid on a meth lab. Even though Statham was clearly trying to keep the kid alive, and the father watched as everyone but Statham gunned his son down, Statham has the rotten luck of being the one marked for death. Go figure.

Anyway, Statham relocates to a small Louisiana town where, by happy chance, meth is the drug of choice. But Statham’s retired, so he finds trouble elsewhere — or rather his daughter does, on the school playground, where’s she’s bullied by the fat kid (there’s always a fat kid), and responds promptly by knocking him on his fat derriere.

The kids’ parents are called, and the mother of the fat kid (Kate Bosworth) takes an immediate dislike to Statham, to the point of putting out another hit on him, to be fulfilled by her meth-cooking brother Gator (James Franco). I think you can guess where it goes from there.

The screenplay by Sylvester Stallone, based on a novel by Chuck Logan, actually ins’t bad, and what makes Homefront bubble above its companions is the restraint. It’s not an army Statham’s up against, but rather a handful of yokels, bikers, and meth dealers. And to that extent, it does a good job setting up the prelude to its action. You know it’s coming, but it’s nice that the film tries and often achieves some suspense.

However, that degree of effort also makes you wish something similar had been put into the characters and subplots. A romance between Statham and the school psychologist (Rachelle Lefevre, for example, is heavily implied but then totally dropped. The fat kid’s mother’s drug problem is likewise introduced but never resolved or explored. Same for the hints toward child abuse.

And the supporting cast, save for Franco, either have nothing to do or don’t appear to know why they’re not doing it. Winona Ryder’s turn as gator’s girlfriend feels awkward and needless, while the immortal Clancy Brown as the town sheriff begins as an interesting, considerate, and level-headed fellow, but ends up as a hapless bumbler.

In all, I don’t think anyone expects anything great from Homefront. It’s decent fun if you want a Statham fix, and that’s about it.

Rating: 3/5

Homefront is rated R. Directed by Gary Fleder. Written by Sylvester Stallone. Based on the novel Homefront by Chuck Logan. Starring Jason Statham, James Franco, Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth, Chuck Zito, Mischa Barton, Frank Grillo, Rachelle Lefevre, Clancy Brown, Christa Campbell, Stuart Greer, Omar Benson Miller, and Izabela Vidovic.


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One Response to “ Movie Review: Homefront ”

  1. Homefront on December 13, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    After the death of his wife, Phil Broker (Jason Statham) and his young daughter Maddy (Izabela Vidovic) to a small Louisiana town. What starts out as what was supposed to be a new beginning quickly changes. After an altercation with a local hick family, the wife Cassie (Kate Bosworth), enlists her brother Gator (James Franco) to put a scare into him. But what starts out as a few minor threats quickly begins to escalate and become more personal, and Broker is willing to do whatever it takes to protect his daughter and his homefront.

    Jason Statham has been known for his past non-stop action films. While entreating and fun, most of them lack a lot of substance. Homefront is a change of pace. Instead of playing the normal character he usually does, Statham is family man this time around. He’s trying to provide a better life for his daughter by trying to avoid conflict, but conflict seems to follow him amongst the townspeople. At the film’s core it’s about a man trying to do his best, but like many people, he has his limit. What sets it apart from Statham’s other films is that there’s more to the story than him running around beating the hell out of everyone. There is also more substance to his character. But it certainly wouldn’t be a Jason Statham movie without some good fight sequences. While we are treated to minor ones throughout the movie, the biggest one of all, of course, is in the final act of the movie. The film does a good job of balancing the story with action which should be please most audiences However, one of it’s weaknesses is that it has more villains than necessary, and it ultimately leaves the viewer wondering who the real villain is. It also suffers from some weak character development with some pretty important characters including Kate Bosworth’s character who essentially is the one who sets things in motion, she pops up every once in a while and randomly shows up at the end. Rachelle Lefevre who stars as Maddy’s school psychologist isn’t given much to work with either. She’s introduced and it’s evident there’s chemistry between her and Statham’s character and that’s really it. And while she’s present through a good chunk of the movie as Franco’s girlfriend, Winona Ryder has a character that should have been given a bit more history, as she’s an integral part when it comes to the “other” villains.

    Jason Statham gives a very credible performance. As noted, we typically see him as the all- around tough guy with nothing much else to show. Here, we see him as a father caring for his daughter, plus that, and he balances both really well. The moments between him and newcomer Izabela Vidovic are nice to watch as their chemistry as father and daughter really works. Vidovic also gives a very good performance as Maddy, she portrays a tough young girl well, but plays the emotional moments when discussing her deceased mother very well. James Franco stars as one of the major villains in the movie. After his villain-ish performance in Spring Breakers, Franco takes on a more legitimate villain role. The thing about Franco as the villain here is that we never know what his next move will be, he does a excellent job of keeping the audience on their toes. The rest of the cast (at least what we see of them) do a decent job, though nothing spectacular or memorable.

    For a film of a new nature for Jason Statham, Homefront does a well-done job, as does Statham and Franco. The story is one that can appeal to both genders. It’s not all action, but offers plenty of thrills and dramatic elements to keep the story going until the big fight scenes occur. Despite some of the weak character development, and the over-abundance of villains, Homefront is an above average film that is easily Statham’s best.

    My Rating: 8/10