Every so often, films are disguised and presented as something new and fresh. It’s not until the film gets going that you realize that you’ve seen a dozen variations of this film before. From then on, you’re waiting to see if everything unfolds the way you guessed it would and nothing really interests you. Sure, you can throw in action and violence and that may be fun, but those elements can only add so much to the story. You’ve got to wonder what the director was thinking when he/she decided to tell this unoriginal story. Not even big name celebrities could save this new effort.
Phil Broker (Jason Statham) is one of the DEA’s best undercover agents in the field. He successfully busted a meth ring and sent a man to jail, while the man’s son was brutally killed by police officers. After retiring, Phil and his daughter Maddy (Izabela Vidovic) move to a small town in New Orleans, as per the final wish of the death of Maddy’s mother. Things seem peaceful and quaint, until Maddy and a boy get in a fight at school.
Cassie Clum (Kate Bosworth), the boy’s mother, is a real piece of work. She and her wuss of a husband Jimmy (Marcus Hester), didn’t take too kindly to Maddy beating up their son and when Phil defends himself against Jimmy, things get out of hand. Cassie decides to go to her meth-makibg brother Gator Bodine (James Franco), seeking his help to shake up Phil. When Gator discovers that Phil is ex-DEA and when Phil discovers that Gator cooks meth, Phil and his family are in deep trouble. Phil will have to use his training and wit if he wants to protect the things that he loves.
As mentioned earlier, you’ve all seen this film a dozen times. Some cop retires and tries to live a quiet life with his family, but things go wrong and his child ends up getting kidnapped. The only difference here, is that Sylvester Stallone wrote the script and that B-Movie action star Jason Statham is in it. Fortunately, Sly didn’t act in it. Unfortunately, he wrote a boring retelling of every Steven Seagal movie.
Like many, I’m a huge fan of Statham and all the ass he kicks in his movies. While there’s some of that in Homefront, we see a more emotional Statham than ever before. He is always invested in his rules and he sells the protective father wanting to protect his family really well. He flirts with a teacher and disaster and keeps the film rolling along. Don’t worry, he still manages to intimidate on and off the screen. His action sequences look great and he does what he does best. It helps that his adorable daughter in the film is cute enough to elixir emotion from him.
Down in the bayou, Franco and Bosworth also give some good performances. With Franco, dealing with drugs has never been abnormal for him in a film. He pays a good meth cooker and his tense sequences highlight his dedication to his craft. Bosworth, on the other hand, manages to embody every instance of the phrase “white trash”. She lost a lot of weight for the role and was creepily good as a meth addict. From her red eyes, slim physique, and itching, she stands above all else in the film.
Pacing is what ends up killing Homefront. It takes far too long for the action to arrive, abs when it does, it’s only there for a few minutes. The story is very character driven, which is fine, but the characters aren’t nearly interesting enough to sustain your focus. At this point in time, audiences have come to expect a certain level of ass-kicking from any cheesy Statham movie and this film just doesn’t have that. Instead, we get bogged down in all the specifics of some unimportant characters and how they’re barely linked together.
Homefront tries to be like a lot of older action flicks that have a well-developed stories and characters. While having neither, it still entertains in some instances. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t fun to watch Statham take people out by any means necessary. James Franco continues to “surprise” audiences with his role decisions and he adds some much-needed flair to the film. The actors do their best with their cheesy and poorly written dialog, but the slowly drawn-out story makes all their efforts for not. I tried to get invested in the film, but I couldn’t. I enjoyed the violence and blood and whatnot, but not nearly enough to recommend it to anyone I know.