“Homefront” Movie Review
When one is offered a film crafted to imitate a vintage wine such as “Homefront,” it’s polite etiquette to at least offer cheese to combat the aftertaste. Garry Fleder’s film offers plenty of cheese and it often seeps out of its sides onto every surface. But what really distinguishes “Homefront” as the red haired child of the Jason Statham action movie bunch – and why a declamation about “Homefront” and its inherent cheesiness make such a baffling pairing – is its cast. What other Statham film might you find two Oscar nominated actors, an accomplished actress whose interests range from Sam Peckinpah re-makes to high tailing around the universe with Superman, and the voice of the Krusty Krab, Mr. Krabs, himself?
“Crazy waiting to happen” is what Teedo (Omar Benson Miller), friend of Phil Broker (Jason Statham), says when describing Morgan “Gator” Bodine (James Franco), the villain of the film meant to endlessly grind away at Broker’s new life in rural Louisiana. And there’s a lot of crazy waiting to happen, as quite frequently in Jason Statham’s films, that does occur. However, as much as two thirds of “Homefront” is dedicated to characterization, flimsy albeit. But nonetheless a script by, surprisingly of all people, Sylvester Stallone seeks to build upon ideas of escalation rather than outright violent scenes of mayhem as Stallone’s“Expendables” franchise does so eloquently enough.
“Homefront” begins with a prologue dealing with a DEA drug bust on some bikers. Our hero, Phil Broker, is a tough cop with an equally tough sounding name – and with a designation like that he could be called anything, even Punch Tankman, and the point would be telegraphed just as proficiently. Anyhow, subtly, as much as “Homefront” would like to imply, is not the goal here. The bust leads to a chase through the city. Eventually leading to a tense standoff and the
killing of the biker kingpin’s sons death. Broker’s inability to bring everyone in safely leads to his reassignment and relocation to the South.
At some point, Stallone must have seen Roman Polanski’s “Carnage” and wondered how he could add guns, explosives and other sundry to the plot. Both films have uncanny similarities. A schoolyard scuffle between Broker’s daughter and the son of Cassie Bodine-Klum (Kate Bosworth), a concerned mother and, unfortunately, meth addict, confronts her brother, small business owner and meth entrepreneur, Gator. Cassie asks Gator to cause some trouble with
Broker as revenge for the fight between the two kids. Gator obligees and breaks into Broker’s house. He eventually discovers in the basement of Broker’s house a stack of boxes that reveal Phil to have once a DEA agent with a license to kick ass. Gator uses this information as leverage with the biker kingpin that Broker arrested for wide scale distribution of his meth. The conflict gets cooking and Broker wants his life and his cat, which Gator has stolen, back.
Fleder’s experience with above average, yet throwaway, thrillers is on display once again. Much time is dealt with Broker acting as a father to his daughter, which leads to some novelty in seeing Statham smile for once instead of looking dour and pissed off on most occasions. Statham, himself, is not a natural actor and makes no attempt at masking his own English accent with one that would have deemed “Homefront” to be an unintentional comedy. Real men, apparently, don’t need acting experience. Acting, if its any indication here, is for dilettantes and sissies.
Clancy Brown (many may know him better as the voice of Mr. Krabs) plays a crooked cop who claims to be watching the escalating situation between Broker and Gator very closely. Though Brown’s character doesn’t redeem himself in the end so much as rather shows up to do things that happen to be right; even if he’s been acting under dubious circumstances the entire film. Franco and Winona Ryder both ham it up when necessary. Kate Bosworth, as the emaciated and confused sister of Gator, shows a knack for mild manner lunacy under the influence of meth
(Bosworth isn’t under the influence of meth, but she sure sells it). Usually caught in a radiant capacity, Bosworth attempts her best Charlize Theron. It’s certainly not enough to reach the heights of Theron’s performance in “Monster,” but Bosworth’s attempt at a passing imitation of such a weighty experience is the most noteworthy performance in “Homefront.” Maybe acting isn’t so bad.
It’s really the final thirty minutes of “Homefront” when the film begins to pick up the pace. Where the crazy everyone was waiting to happen finally occurs and it is indeed quite deranged. As much time as the film spends with these characters in a state of normalcy, the conflict that arises feels quite commonplace. “Homefront” is commendable for attempting to keep the star driven action genre alive, something that has all but been overshadowed by the giant spectacle of comic book films, but the morality play here is quite trite. A misunderstanding conflated to
It’s entertaining, and at its best, economical storytelling, but “Homefront” will ultimately be forgotten, doomed to languish in DVD bins across the country. Statham has attempted to add some gravitas to his resume with Steven Knight’s “Hummingbird” and Fleder’s “Homefront” does inch toward something akin to Knight’s philosophizing, but it isn’t enough to warrant anything other than a middling viewing. “Homefront” should be volatile when it’s just dull and
bottling up Statham’s natural charisma for punching bad guys doesn’t lead to a winning formula. Although, there is always room to be proven wrong if Statham ever decides to pick up acting as a hobby.
2.5 out of 5
Pushing the boundaries of the term “Special Features,” the DVD extras of “Homefront” only
features Deleted Scenes and a featurette which can conveniently be seen on Youtube.