Writer: Casey LeeWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"Lethal Weapon" and "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead".
Put the name Jason Statham on any movie poster and instantly that should already tell you what half the story is and what to expect. Even with a classic tagline on its poster that reads 'Don't mess with his daughter' which sums up what's going to happen, "Homefront" is more of an affront to seeing Statham bashing up the proverbial bad guys of various shapes and forms into actual shapes and forms, and in a surprisingly good way too.
Phil Broker (Jason Statham with hair) is an undercover DEA agent embedded within a notorious and nasty drug gang of bikers when the DEA launches an operation to shut down their operations. When the shooting starts, everything goes south and the unintentional death of the drug boss's son has the now imprisoned drug boss crying out for Broker's blood. Meanwhile, Broker (Jason Statham without hair) resigns from the agency and tries to rebuild a new life with his young daughter Maddy in roughneck Louisianna, the home of his late wife. But not everyone can leave them alone.
When Broker's more than capable daughter Maddy (Izabela Vidovic) stands up for herself from a playground bully, a web is spun that connects Broker's enforcement days with a local and ambitious drug manufacturer, Gator Bodine (James Franco), whose discovery of Broker's past comes with unexpected uses to up his game.
Adapted from a novel by Chuck Logan with the adaptation written by "Expendables" partner Sylvester Stallone himself (who also acts as producer here), "Homefront" was a project that had been put away in Stallone's drawers for nearly more than 20 years until Statham came into the picture. Granted, the setup is ultimately dated and almost too fitting for a Statham movie, but it follows an old fashioned belief that even action movies deserves to have a plot and buildup. Yes people, you read that; there is an actual plot in "Homefront" to follow in between the short scenes of skulls and bones being pulverized, that is fairly engaging instead of mindless.
If you are someone who needs to see Statham beating the brains out of someone for every 5 seconds, you may find the opening buildup as Broker goes around trying to make peace with his enemies while making time to go horseback riding with his daughter boring, if not detestable. But if you can follow director Gary Fleder's attention to follow the lit fuse towards the powder keg, not just for Broker but also for Bordine, you will be more than willing to let the buildup take its time while anticipating for the moment when it all blows up.
"Homefront" doesn't fully shade Broker and his unfriendly neighbours as shallow heroes and villains more than victims of their own circumstances with something to gain from the detriment of the other, and this relies on some steady performance that rises or falls from surprising spots in the cast. Given that Broker's characterisation is someone who much rather would like to avoid a fight than charging headlong to it, Statham's non-violent performance feels like all these years as a stunt performer is taking the next step for him as a performer who can handle some depth as a character. Statham's displays his acting chops here as a fiercely protective father who is willing to talk before punching your teeth in, while not remarkably revelatory, is pointing towards something worth looking forward to than his next hammer fist.
Kate Bosworth as the jumpy and drug-induced mother of the bully plays up the human aspects of the plot and Frank Grillo as the tough biker avenger also puts up a strong performance to be more than just a pushover. Child actress Izabela Vidovic's performance as Maddy also deserves some attention. The downside unfortunately is James Franco, who you thought might be more abrasive from the trailers, but his conniving and scheming character doesn't make him a worthy opponent for Statham's Broker.
Although the dodgy camerawork when it counts does take away some of the entertainment value, it would be poor judgment to label "Homefront" as just another Statham movie. Even so, that doesn't mean that one should go in with the expectation that it has crawled out from what informs a Statham movie. It is simply a mostly solid and old-fashioned actioner that still rides heavily on Statham's name but with a few surprises and directions that if kept refined might attach some less violent synonyms to Statham and his brand of movies.Cinema Online, 03 December 2013