Judge Clark Douglas is just gonna hide over here while everyone else shoots it out.
How far would you go to protect your home?
"I don't want that NARC messin' up my business."
Facts of the Case
Once upon a time, Phil Broker (Jason Statham, Crank) was an undercover cop with a knack for handling violent situations. These days, he's a simple man working a simple blue collar job and attempting to raise his young daughter Maddy (Izabela Vidovic, Zombieland). One day, Maddy finds herself in a confrontation with an elementary school bully, and the bully's parents become furious. What begins as a simple dispute between children soon escalates into a county-wide conflict, with notorious local criminal Gator Bodine (James Franco, 127 Hours) and others attempting to intimidate Phil and drive him out of town. When things turn serious, Phil has no choice but to return to the violent lifestyle he had vowed to leave behind.
The most important thing to realize about Homefront is that the film was written quite a few years ago by Sylvester Stallone, who had intended to work the tale into the Rambo franchise. That never quite worked out, but the script kept kicking around and finally managed to find new life as a Jason Statham vehicle. Despite the 21st-century cast, Stallone's fingerprints are all over this thing. This is exactly the sort of flick Stallone would have been perfect for during his prime, and it feels as if almost nothing has been updated since the script was written (save for a couple of clunky technology jokes). This is a big, dumb, violent piece of mainstream action that checks all of the boxes it's supposed to and makes no effort to deliver any surprising plot developments, nuanced characters or artful touches. If the lack of pretension means more to you than the lack of quality, by all means go for it.
I'll say this much for Statham: the man is always true to himself. Nearly every other action star these days makes frequent attempts to diversify their resume by starring in a children's comedy, a prestigious drama or some other project designed to redefine the way audiences view them. Statham, on the other hand, pretty much always plays Jason Statham characters—tough, no-nonsense men who operate on varying degrees of gruff decency and ass-kicking machismo. His character in Homefront is a little quieter than most—there are several early scenes in which Phil actually avoids potential confrontations—but by the third act, we're back to the usual scenes of Statham blowing things up, engaging in car chases and punching bad guys. He's not the world's most subtle actor, but there's a gritty sincerity to Statham's work that frequently makes him the best thing about the films he appears in. Even in his weakest flicks (and Homefront is definitely a part of that group), he's a solid lead.
The real problems in the flick come from the plot and the supporting characters. Every beat of this recycled story is telegraphed in advance, as if the filmmakers were eager to assure everyone that Jason Statham would eventually be doing violent stuff (which also explains the way the film opens with a bloody-but-superfluous flashback to the character's days as an undercover cop). For most of the film's first hour, we cut back and forth between scenes of villainous rednecks glowering, popping tires and delivering threatening monologues and scenes of Statham engaging in all sorts of happy activities with his daughter (shot with sun-kissed cinematography and underscored by lilting acoustic guitar music). It's no wonder the film's trailer gave every single plot development away—the movie itself tips its hand frequently and without caution.
I'm at a loss to explain many of the roles James Franco accepts these days, but I'm genuinely puzzled as to what he's doing in Homefront. It's a dull, one-dimensional part that Franco does nothing with—I can only assume he accepted the job for the opening scene in which he gets to utter the immortal words, "My name is Gator Bodine!" Kate Bosworth (Beyond the Sea) goes overboard with her southern accent, though it's certainly surprising to see the actress in a role like this. The ever-luminous Winona Ryder is wasted in a supporting turn as Gator's trashy girlfriend, and reliable character actors like Frank Grillo (The Grey) and Clancy Brown (Carnivale) are given little of interest to do. While someone may have well been passionate about this project, it feels very much like an easy paycheck for pretty much everyone involved. Director Gary Fleder has made a career of churning out run-of-the-mill thrillers, but this one is forgettable even by his standards. Many of the film's crimes would be forgivable if the action were actually exciting, but the most explosive scenes are presented in a flat, generic manner.
Homefront (Blu-ray) offers a splendid 1080p/2.40:1 transfer. While the film doesn't really stand out much in the visual department (it looks like a standard thriller, basically), the level of detail is exceptional throughout. Darker scenes benefit from excellent shading and depth, while brighter scenes offer vibrant, rich colors. The DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio track is stellar, too, delivering the pounding action sequences and thunderous music with clarity and strengh. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout. Supplements are limited to a handful of deleted scenes, a DVD copy and a digital copy.
Bland and predictable, Homefront is for Stallone/Statham devotees only.
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Scales of Justice
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