Directed by Gary Fleder. Starring Jason Statham, James Franco, Winona Ryder, Rachelle Lefevre, Izabela Vidovic, Kate Bosworth, Omar Benson Miller, Chuck Zito. (2013, R, 100 min.)
REVIEWED By Louis Black, Fri., Nov. 29, 2013
A throwback to an older style of action thriller, Homefront’s script by Sylvester Stallone (which he originally intended as a vehicle for himself) is based on Chuck Logan's 2005 entry in his series of novels about an ex-law officer. Helmed by journeyman director Fleder (who’s done lots of episodic TV and the feature films Kiss the Girls and Runaway Jury), Homefront is better than it has to be, although it will probably be drubbed by critics.
Ex-DEA agent Broker (Statham) has retired with his daughter Maddy (Vidovic) to backwater Louisiana in search of the quiet life. Alas, that is not to be as he encounters a meth-crazed redneck (Bosworth), her speed-manufacturing evil brother – the aptly though mysteriously named Gator (Franco) – and his goons. A chance schoolyard encounter gone terribly astray leads her to sic Gator on Broker. Following his sister's admonishment to “mess with their heads," Gator breaks into the house while father and daughter are out riding. There he discovers Broker's past involvement in the killing of the son of an imprisoned biker-gang leader and criminal drug lord. Using his stripper, drug-dealing and -using girlfriend Sheryl Mott (Ryder) as a go-between in exchange for a drug distribution deal, Gator offers the gang leader (Zito) Broker's location.
The film has some humor but is mostly a dead-ahead action film, alternating scenes of tension with those of violence. Its greatest failure is the badly edited action sequences, which offer little drama but lots of confusion. Homefront actually boasts some interesting character development, especially with Franco delivering a less over-the-top performance than usual. Statham delivers his usual underplayed and overly violent performance. The film is mostly predictable, but throws a few curveballs and ends up being surprisingly entertaining, if not at all outstanding.