"Homefront" Review: Craig's First Take

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Low-level DEA agent Phil Broker (Jason Statham) sees his quiet family life turned upside down when his path crosses with a band of drug traffickers, led by Gator (James Franco), a meth kingpin.
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Am I the only one who thinks an action movie based around beating up rednecks is a little old-fashioned by now? You kinda expect more out of Sylvester Stallone, especially since he seems so intent on trying to keep the tough guy action hero alive. Say this for him, at 67 he’s still producing like mad, even Schwarzenegger has a lot of work to do to catch up. But in basically his third of four movies coming out this year, Stallone, the writer, completely misses the mark here, creating a dull, lame action movie for “Expendable” partner Jason Statham.

Statham is Broker, an undercover DEA agent looking to escape a past that includes his wife dying and a pissed-off, imprisoned meth dealing biker (Chuck Zito) who wants revenge after his son was killed during a sting. Broker decides to take up residence with his daughter in a small Louisana town, where they both literally stick out like Jet Li in a martial arts class full of beginners. One wonders why Broker would pick such a place to raise his kid, he seems to be challenged to a fight by one of the town’s many jerks almost daily.

What gets him into hot water here though is his daughter standing up to a bully at school. The bully’s Uncle is Gator (James Franco), the town’s local meth dealer, pressed by his sister into making sure Broker and family get a good comeuppance. Franco’s appearance here represents what could have been one of the film’s pure pleasures, but Gator, not even close to being as an eccentric delight as Alien in “Springbreakers”, is of the poke a hole in someone’s tires/rip the head off a stuffed bunny variety of villain, that is to say not much of one. When Gator has an idea that includes getting wider distribution for his meth business in favor of giving up Broker to the bikers, the character is soon sidelined entirely.

While we wait for the bikers to show, we get a bunch of inconsequential fights between Broker and the town’s random thugs, none of which have any tension because we know Statham can, and at times literally, beat these guys with hands tied behind his back. Director Gary Fleder gives us some bookending shoot-outs and car chases, both just look chaotic, predictably staged, and lacking any and all danger but at least it’s something compared to the slow-going middle. As a father dealing with the loss of a wife and raising a child, Statham conveys the same fury he always seems to. I like the guy, but he’s not much of an actor. Not that this requires him to do much of that. He’s an action hero, if only he had an action movie to anchor here. 

2 out of 5