Film Review – Homefront
Originally conceived as a starring vehicle for himself, Sylvester Stallone adapted Chuck Logan‘s novel Homefront into a screenplay that then promptly sat on a shelf to gather dust. By the time it was finally set to go into production, Sly deemed himself too old and passed the machismo-drenched baton to Expendables co-star Jason Statham. The end result is about what you’d expect given the pedigree. A thrill ride curiously absent of thrills, Homefront is a disappointment even the most hardcore action fans will have trouble defending.
Statham stars as Phil Broker, a former DEA agent whose undercover operation is (literally) blown in an extended and bloody opening sequence. Barely escaping with his life, Broker turns in his badge and gun and moves his family to a faraway little town to live out their days riding horses and chewin’ grass. Unfortunately, the town is brimming with corruption thanks to a grimy but thriving meth operation headed by town menace Gator Bodine (James Franco). Things take a turn after a minor scuffle between Broker’s daughter and a troublemaker at her school riles the boy’s mother (Kate Bosworth, looking ghastly thin), provoking her to enlist the help of Gator, who just happens to be her brother. He raids Broker’s house, finds evidence of his DEA past, and lo and behold, we’ve got some hell breakin’ loose.
While I wasn’t much a fan of this summer’s Spring Breakers, James Franco’s turn as Alien was, by all accounts, inspired. He’s proven he can embody the spirit of a low-life and drug dealer rather convincingly (see also: Pineapple Express). So why does his performance as Gator feel so toothless? For starters, the dialogue is outright laughable. Even the most accomplished of thespians would have a hard time sputtering most of this drivel out. Secondly, the thugs he surrounds himself with all look weirdly similar to one another, making it damn near impossible to keep track of what’s happening, let alone invest. Add to this the underwhelming direction of Gary Fleder (Don’t Say a Word, Runaway Jury) and what are you left with? Most likely a drunken and regrettable Redbox decision two months down the line.
Statham broods and exacts revenge, utilizing the skills he’s no doubt developed attending Jason Statham’s School Of Being Jason Statham. There’s also a romantic subplot involving him and his daughter’s teacher that’s swiftly forgotten for 30-minute chunks at a time, as well as a blossoming friendship with a new co-worker whose name may as well have been Mr. Exposition. Winona Ryder brings what she can to the largely thankless role of Gator’s sometime junkie companion, but we never learn enough about her to truly sympathize.
Homefront is brainless fun minus the fun. The inevitable final showdown is so shoddily lit and edited you couldn’t root for our hero if you wanted to. Jason Statham is a burgeoning leading man and engaging screen presence who hasn’t yet hitched himself to a project worthy of his charms. (I await your angry emails, Crank defenders.) A quick look at his IMDb page confirms he’ll soon be in another Expendables film, as well as the next in the Fast & Furious franchise entry. At least there’s a built-in audience there. Homefront is destined to walk alone.