‘Homefront’ is a strange movie to release at Thanksgiving. This violent and bloody action thriller stars Jason Statham and James Franco, with a small appearance by Winona Ryder. Based on a novel by Chuck Logan, the cheesy script was originally written by Sylvester Stallone, who doesn’t seem to have grown out of the ’80s action films he starred in. While Stallone is nowhere to be seen in the movie, he serves as producer and his handprints are all over it.
In fact, this was written by Stallone a long time ago, originally as a finale for his Rambo character. The plot and story are very similar to almost every other action movie involving a single parent and a kid who get involved with bad guys. Never at any point do you think that Statham’s character is in any real danger. He easily overcomes the villains, no matter how many team up on him.
In a high-octane opening scene, DEA agent Phil Broker (Statham in long greasy hair) takes out a biker gang’s meth lab. A car and motorcycle chase with the top drug lord ensues, and the point of the story is set in motion – Broker and his family are targeted for death.
Cut to a couple of years later. Phil and his 10-year-old daughter Maddy are coping with the sudden loss of the girl’s mother due to cancer, and they think that moving to a quiet town in rural Louisiana is just what they need. Since good ol’ dad, who still speaks with a British accent for some reason, doesn’t do cupcakes or princesses, he’s taught his daughter to defend herself. When a fat bully attacks her at school, she leaves him on the schoolyard with bloody face. It turns out that the bully’s parents are heavy drug users. After Phil defends himself against the druggie parents, the mom (Kate Bosworth) enlists the help of her brother, Gator Bodine (James Franco), the biggest and baddest meth dealer in the South.
Franco has had an interesting year, from playing Oz to Alien to Hugh Hefner, and even himself on film. Here, he gets to have fun as a redneck asshole of epic proportions.
Gator and his girlfriend (Ryder) recruit his henchman and some of the biker gang from earlier to seek revenge. What follows is a string of curse words, fight scenes and lousy dialogue. All the while, the child-in-distress scenario is hammed up and played out. I hoped that director Gary Fleder might allow Statham to use his martial arts skills to the fullest, but his camerawork is quick, choppy and uninteresting, and the action sequences are all sub-par.
That being said, the movie is sort of fun, even if it’s stupid fun. If you’re looking for a ridiculous action movie this holiday weekend, here it is.