There’s something you should know upfront about Homefront, which is that Sylvester Stallone wrote the script. That very fact brings all the pluses and minuses associated with Sly into play before you even know much about the movie. Stallone also wrote the lead role for himself before figuring out he was a few decades too old to play the part. This is an adaptation of a Chuck Logan novel, but it has late-date Sly written all over it. As such, you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the dialogue is rote and clunky as hell, and sentences are strung together without much thought. All of that would be just fine for a trashy B-movie, but a total absence of quality one-liners makes this movie a real boner killer. And why is James Franco in this film? He may have signed on for fun, but something happened on the way to the exploitation market.
Homefront IS a Jason Statham action vehicle, but you’d never know it by the way Franco puts the scenery in his pipe and smokes it for a few moments. Plus this really isn’t the typical Statham movie. One gets the sense that the bloke decided it was time to move slightly out of his comfort zone and play a character with more than one dimension. After a boilerplate introductory scene featuring Statham wearing a wiglet and blowing his DEA cover during a major bust, Statham gets back to his shiny-headed self. He stars as Phil Broker, a widower and ex-lawman who leaves his big-city adventures to move to a small Louisiana community, which just happens to be uncomfortably close to where the big busts of his career took place. Since something has to happen in this movie, it’s Statham’s past that appears as the real big baddie to mess up his nice and peaceful retirement from an extremely stressful and highly dangerous life.
Franco plays Gator, a meth kingpin who delights in intimidating the hell out of anyone. One can easily envision Franco going full cartoon with this character, but he seems unexpectedly restrained. Winona Ryder serviceably takes the role of Sheryl, Gator’s methwhore girlfriend. Kate Bosworth ably pops in as Cassie, Gator’s methwhore sister. Do you see where I’m going with this? Meth meth meth. Meth and wimmens.
Not all of the girls in this movie are so easily categorized. After Broker’s 10-year-old daughter, Maddy (Izabela Vidovic), dares to defend herself against a bully on the school playground, things get ugly really fast. All of Broker’s hopes for a quiet life in the background are shot to hell when Gator digs up Broker’s true identity and decides to make his life hell. Maddy’s safety is threatened, and local law enforcement is no help at all. Essentially, this movie is a series of Statham getting ganged up on by several rednecks at the same time, and of course he takes them all with no trouble at all. No thanks to the shitty fight choreography and cinematography at work.
The cast of familiar faces lends a guilty pleasure onscreen, but the performances are all over the board. Statham kicks a lot of white trash ass. His character is softer than we’re used to, but he still brings his usual brand of physicality to the role. Franco is a disappointment and probably used this movie as part of his ongoing life of performance art. He grins a lot and aims for menace, but Franco’s sleeping on the job. Winona? She’s okay, but the unexpected treat in this movie is Kate Bosworth. Wow, she can really act. Who knew?
This movie aims for trash and should be satisfying in both the visceral and exploitative senses. Shootouts and fights galore! Yet the story is so rote and predictable that there’s little joy in watching it played out — especially when the big climactic bayou fight is so dark that I couldn’t see what the hell was going on. Ooh, Gator is so scary — he cuts the head off a stuffed animal! Whatever.
Directed by Gary Fleder (Don’t Say a Word, Runaway Jury), Homefront is good for one thing — acting as a certain black hole where taste goes to die, which is somewhat useful when one gets tired of listening to their relatives drone on about politics at the Thanksgiving dinner table. What’s really missing from the movie is some deadpan humor and self-awareness. The dialogue isn’t funny at all but just dumb. The fights are there (check, check, check), but they are merely obligatory space fillers in what should have been a pleasurably trashy movie. This is a paint-by-numbers affair, neither Franco high art nor a true guilty pleasure.
Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at Celebitchy.