The script may be expendable, but Jason Statham does what he does best in this enjoyably old school action flick written by Sylvester Stallone.
Following the touchy-feely Hummingbird (aka Redemption), The Stath is back on more familiar ground with his third film of the year.
Since breaking out as a leading man in 2002’s The Transporter, Statham has methodically turned himself into a bankable action man. It speaks to his star wattage that his movies have attracted increasingly big name casts, whether it’s opposite Robert De Niro and Clive Owen in Killer Elite or Jennifer Lopez in Parker earlier this year.
Slumming it they may be, but Homefront co-stars James Franco, Winona Ryder and a barely recognisable Kate Bosworth nevertheless add an extra touch of class to proceedings.
Statham plays Phil Broker, who retired as a DEA agent after helping to take down a notorious biker gang. He retreats to a seemingly sleepy Louisiana town with his young daughter Maddy (Izabela Vidovic) but, following a series of improbable coincides, finds his past catching up with him after getting on the wrong side of a bunch of redneck meth dealers led by Gator (Franco).
Despite receiving a Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination all those years ago for Rocky, Stallone’s range as a scriptwriter is relatively limited. The premise of Homefront is pretty basic, but Sly at least injects Gator and his trailer trash sister Cassie (Bosworth) with a more interesting human dimension than we’re used to seeing in these kinds of flicks. That said, you’d be hard pushed to remember/care about any of the dialogue.
Imagine that Alien from Spring Breakers had a brother and you’d be pretty close to nailing Franco’s Gator. Using that same crooked smile (minus the gold teeth), sleazy demeanour and southern drawl, Franco may not inhabit the part as thoroughly as he did the drug-dealing Alien, but it’s a fun performance and you half expect him to say “look at my shit” when he’s showing white trash lover Cheryl (Ryder, looking out-of-place) around his meth lab.
Director Gary Fleder goes through the motions somewhat, using warm colours and clunky pianos in the scenes between Broker and his loving daughter, while – surprise surprise – juxtaposing this a desaturated look for the scenes involving the cold-hearted bikers who ride into turn seeking vengeance.
Although the interplay between Statham and Vidovic is nicely judged by both actors, the film inevitably lives or dies on its action scenes and it’s here the film doesn’t disappoint. In The Stath’s reliable hands, the moments of ass-kicking are explosively handled, in particular the bullet-tastic showdown between Broker and the bikers.
Homefront is hardly groundbreaking stuff, but it gets the job done and offers up another star vehicle for Mr Chrome Dome.