Starring: Jason Statham, James Franco, Winona Ryder
Genre: Drama/ Thriller/ Crime
After a bust goes tragically wrong and a powerful crime boss blames him for his son’s death, former undercover DEA agent Phil Broker (Statham) who is now a widower moves to a quiet Southern State town with his daughter (Izabela Vidovic). A playground altercation between his daughter and another boy leads to a further altercation between Phil and the boy’s father, Jimmy (Marcus Hester). Jimmy’s incensed wife Cassie (Kate Bosworth) then asks her brother Morgan ‘Gator’ Bodine (Franco), a local wannabe drug kingpin to teach Phil a lesson. As soon as Morgan discovers the truth about Phil’s past, he sees an opportunity to expand his drugs ‘empire’ by revealing to those that want to get vengeance on Frank for his undercover days Phil’s new location. So begins a series of events spiralling out of control as Phil finds himself alone and outnumbered, and faces a desperate battle to protect himself and his daughter from both unhinged locals and violent gangsters.
Oh the conundrum of reviewing a Jason Statham film these days: No matter what criticism I try to throw at it, that can indeed be greeted with a resounding “well, what else did you expect?!?” Homefront contains an extremely familiar b-movie plot (originally written by Stallone no less), with clichés, caricatures and a clunky script from start to finish. However, what else did I expect from a Statham film? I love a cheesy clichéd action movie as much as the next filmgoer, and all these are all forgivable if the film is actually fun and enjoyable, unfortunately in the case of Homefront it tries to go for drama and action, never merging the two with any real success.
This is all a shame as I am a huge fan of the Stath; I think he has great screen presence, a very expressional face and is almost a dying breed as an old school action hero who talks with his fists very well. Well, Statham is fine in Homefront to be honest, and the violence is admittedly done well, but he seems to be letting himself down with his choice of scripts these days and I personally prefer him delivering witty one liners in more cheesy action films.
The script is the main problem with Homefront; like is said, predictable is fine if a film is an unashamedly cheesy action flick, but when it takes itself as seriously as Homefront does then the script needs to try harder, instead we are given a film where every clichéd plot development and resolution can be seen a mile off and there is never any real tension, or indeed interest.
I cannot help but feel the marketing behind Homefront has given a slightly misleading portrayal of Franco’s character; though he is certainly the antagonist of the narrative, he is no hard man and his first scene where he teaches some young wannabe drug dealers a lesson feels a little embarrassing to watch. Franco’s character is a cowardly slime ball small time drug dealer who finds himself incredibly out of his depth when dealing with real gangsters, but despite him being a talented actor and often charismatic screen presence, I cannot help feel Franco was miscast. His name and face on the poster may attract more viewers, but he is too much of a pretty boy to cut it as the type of character he is trying to play here, and the film does suffer a little for it. However, as Franco’s trailer trash drug addict sister, Kate Bosworth gives a real physical performance that feels like the film’s only attempt at some kind of authenticity in terms of characters.
Admittedly when the gangsters led by man mountain Frank Grillo turn up for the inevitable big(ish) action set piece things do get a bit more interesting, but again everything just feels painfully predictable and underwhelming. The whole narrative plods along and once finished, is almost instantly forgotten.
The Stath once again continues to ruin his CV with yet another dull and clichéd film that tries to balance action and drama with little success. Statham is undoubtedly better than the material he is given in Homefront, but it inevitably did make me miss the enjoyable silliness of The Transporter or Crank films.