Directed by Gary Fleder
November 27, 2013 (United States)
After retiring and moving to a small town, a retired DEA agent runs afoul of a local meth drug lord.
The plot is basic: good guy seeking peace pisses off local inbreds and now must kick some butt. Using rednecks as the villains is pretty cliché. So is the quiet small town and the isolated house. But this is an action film and the use of the usual filler is okay so long as it is used well and they do well enough here. Plus this is the perfect plot to showcase Statham’s screen persona.
From an action standpoint, Homefront is not too bad. Then again with someone like Jason Statham that is almost a given. Statham knows how to beat the crap out of people in a movie and make it look good. And Statham does a good job fighting against a group of redneck meth head meth makers.
The story is pretty much run-of-the-mill. There is nothing special here, but the action scenes are worth it. And you get a visceral thrill when the daughter or Jason Statham takes out a deserving bully. Who does not like to see a bully get their butt kicked?
Jason Statham as retired DEA agent and widowed father Phil Broker is, well, Jason Statham in this movie. Throw in a dead dog and a broken-down pickup truck and you just might have a country song. He is a fantastic action star and I dare say even at times he demonstrates genuine acting skill. I think if he were being helmed by a quality director, he could turn in a surprisingly dynamic performance in just about any of his films but I think he all too often gets lazy directors that allow him to coast on his action fame in parts that could become something more for him.
Our hero has a cute daughter named Maddy (Izabela Vidovic) for whom he has moved to this ultra-small town to raise quietly. Normally the cute kid brings things to crawl in a film but in this case she did not. The brakes were not put on the story when she would speak or act. The problems for our characters start when Maddy crosses paths with the school bully and kicks his butt and the junkie mom (a shockingly disturbing Kate Bosworth) gets her brother Gator to exact revenge since her husband cannot do anything to her satisfaction. Bosworth shined as an addict mother in a concept where such a character usually does not. She was very convincing.
I always approach any James Franco performance with hesitation, and I do not know why. He has never disappointed me even if what he was in was not too good. He is fantastic as the villain “Gator” Bodine, a violent local meth maker. His performance was dark and threatening in a role that is normally not legitimately evil. Sure, the drug lord is the bad guy, but they are not actually somebody disturbing or even a viable threat to the hero, but he was here.
Clancy Brown is Sheriff Keith Rodriguez. Rodriguez seems to be trying to maintain a balance in the town rather than strictly enforcing the law. He views upsetting the criminals as igniting a powder keg, but he also knows he cannot let them run amok, so he issues stern warnings and tries to keep everybody in their corner. I thought it would turn out he was in Gator’s pocket, but they avoided that here.
I was happy to find Winona Ryder in this movie. This is a pre-Stranger Things part so roles for her were not as plentiful as they once were having grown into adulthood and separating from Johnny Depp and some legal issues. She takes this crappy part (and for someone of her talent it is) and makes it shine. She is perhaps one of my favorite actresses working today and I worship her in all she does. I think I only really winced at her being in the Trek reboot but that was a film that was beneath all involved.
These among others are a very strong cast giving great performances in a film that otherwise would not get a great treatment and that helps to make this better. I praise everyone who gave it their all. They delivered a better than it should have been movie.
The major shortcoming of this film when it came to characters was the schoolteacher Susan (Rachelle Lefevre) who is set up, at least it appears to be, to become Jason Statham’s girlfriend by the end of the film but it never really goes anywhere. There are a few for moments between the two and she plans the daughter’s party and then she has gone from the film. She does not even get trapped at the house during the climactic confrontation as would be normal. She is forgotten in the narrative. Susan who?
Word is this was supposed to be another Rambo film and I can buy that even though it was based on a book of the same name by Chuck Logan that was unconnected to Rambo. After all the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film was based on a novel that was not connected to those films. Regardless Sylvester Stallone, who wrote the screenplay, passed and handed it off to his friend Statham and we got this.
I do not think Homefront would have worked as Rambo movie. Last Blood was not that good in comparison to the other Rambo films. It just kind of was and I cannot imagine this film working with Rambo as the title character. Strangely in broad strokes it is very much like Last Blood. There are enough similarities to make one think anyway.
Homefront in the end is a serviceable action film. If you are a fan of Jason Statham, I say watch it. If you like action films in general though this is an if you want.