Gary Fleder‘s Homefront is the latest Jason Statham action picture to come out quietly during a crowded box office. Homefront is exactly what most come to expect out of Statham, which simply means that it features enough hand-to-hand action and general violence to please most seeking a decent B movie, while never quite achieving much of anything else. This isn’t Statham reaching a new level of action film perfection, but it’s also not the worst thing that he’s done in years. It just exists and barely, leaving audiences mostly unmoved with what unravels on the screen.
Phil Broker (Jason Statham) is a former DEA agent that’s relocated to a quiet town, to focus on a better life with his daughter. A life that’s much safer and one that doesn’t involve beating people within an inch of their lives every day. He’s turned over a new leaf.
But this new small town is rather old-fashioned and a small and innocent schoolyard fight between his daughter and a classmate quickly escalates, bringing in the town’s residential drug dealer to the mix. He goes by the name of Gator (James Franco) and he’s got a crazy mindset that allows him to think that he calls the shots, despite being severely out of his league when it comes to rumbling with the seasoned and skilled Phil.
Still, Gator sees this as an opportunity to expand his small-time business to a much larger operation, so he uses the situation to get the attention of some guys that have been looking for Phil ever since a drug bust gone wrong resulted in the leader of a biker gang’s son getting murdered.
Now, Phil must fight off Gator, his goons and this biker gang from the past, in order to protect his daughter.
Homefront is very much your average Jason Statham action picture. There’s not a whole lot going on underneath the surface to suggest otherwise. Statham brings his usual bag of tricks, which means great hand-to-hand combat and occasionally decent shootouts. Statham plays Phil with not much on reserve, playing out the whole quiet man looking for peace character just fine, but not deviating far from what he usually does.
That’s fine, because the script doesn’t really present itself as much of anything else. Sylvester Stallone penned it, which means that it’s loaded with quick action and resolves and not much material to allow the film to stray too far from Statham and his ability to lay waste to just about anyone that threatens him or his daughter.
James Franco highlights the film as a much more sleazy and redneck version of his Spring Breakers character. He almost lifts exact lines and scenes from the film, which is kind of funny, but kind of repetitive. Franco’s clearly invested in delivering one sick and twisted individual that’s mostly lost in a world that’s far bigger than him. He doesn’t completely own the screen, like he did in Spring Breakers, but he offers up a nice balance to Statham’s meat and potatoes retired ass kicker persona.
Frank Grillo, Kate Bosworth and Winona Ryder offer up supporting help that helps the film feel a little more diverse and active. Grillo’s the typical gun-for-hire henchman, with a sweaty appearance that’s not exactly intimidating, but still fun to watch him get lost in, while Bosworth and Ryder do their best to channel their own versions of drugged-out whores. Bosworth presents a much more interesting dynamic, bringing her character’s addiction and conflict to the film’s story towards the end, while Ryder is mostly just a rotten to the core bitch through and through.
None of these side performances really help the film get over any better, because this is mostly a Statham picture and even though Franco tries to sleaze it up, nothing beats Statham kicking ass, taking names and then kicking more ass for some good measure.
Director Gary Fleder does a fine job keeping the fighting in frame, but he stumbles hard when it comes to shooting gunfire and shootouts. The film cuts too much and the camera is jerky and hard to follow during the film’s many darkly lit shootouts. Luckily for us, the fighting sequences are mostly in the daylight.
Homefront is another mixed bag Jason Statham film. It gets by fine on its action and brisk pace, but it doesn’t really do much to differentiate itself from the countless other Statham films that have come out over the past years. The inclusion of James Franco might have you suggesting otherwise, but his performance is just an afterthought to keep you invested once the action scenes slow down and the film shifts from Statham beating up people to Statham talking to people before beating them up.
There’s not much of anything else present in the film and to some folks that’s going to be just fine, while others might leave the theater a bit disappointed. It all depends on what you’ve grown to expect from Statham action films. This is just another decent entry and nothing else.
Homefront – 7/10