Review: Homefront


It’s no surprise Sylvester Stallone, one of the biggest 80’s action stars, penned the screenplay for Homefront. This is the same guy who tried to rewrite Beverly Hills Cop into what would eventually be Cobra. You can Stallone’s fingerprints are all over Homefront because it’s dripping with 1980’s action movie nostalgia from a father trying to save his daughter (Commando), to a one man wrecking crew in small town (Roadhouse), to a showdown with a biker gang (Cobra).

Jason Statham stars as Phil Broker, a former DEA agent living in Louisiana with his daughter Maddy (Izabela Vidovic). Everything in Broker’s life is running smoothly until Maddy gets into a fight at school that leads to a small town Hatfield-McCoy type of feud. After Cassie (Kate Bosworth) asks her brother Gator (James Franco) to help her deal with Broker, Gator learns Broker is not the person he seems to be.

The plot is so 80’s if someone told you that was the description for American Ninja 8, you might believe them.  Statham even “plays” Broker as the toughest guy in the room who has the I-don’t-want-any-trouble attitude. Play is in quotes because Statham plays this role so much, I fully expect him to behave that way if I ever meet him.

The one thing Homefront’s missing – the video game style “Boss” fight at the end. No action movie is complete without the final showdown aka the hero’s real test (sometimes this role filled by the 2nd in command). It’s the payoff for all the henchmen who get beat up and boring side stories. Instead, Homefront has Broker waste everyone he comes in contact with pretty easily. It’s almost too easy. ***Spoiler Alert*** Jason Statham beats everyone to a pulp. He tears through the biker gang like Jason Voorhees in a room full of Camp Crystal Lake counselors. Those guys didn’t stand a chance. And the showdown at the end was so one-sided it could be used in a campaign for anti-bullying.

The one thing that stops Homefront from being 100 minutes of “yeah, I’ve seen this before” might surprise you – it’s the performances. Performances? Performances in a movie that could’ve been a straight to DVD release. Yes, I was shocked too.

Kate Bosworth’s introductory scene as Casey Klum is outstanding. She’s almost unrecognizable as a backwoods, loud talking meth head. Casey strutting around barking about who beat up her son and encouraging her husband (played by Marcus Hester) to fight Broker is one of the best scenes in the film. Bosworth is so good at being unlikeable, it makes me wonder why nobody has casts her in a role like this before.

James Franco also hands in a good performance as Gator. Now, Gator isn’t a criminal mastermind like Die Hard’s Hans Gruber nor is he intimidating like Chong LI in Bloodsport, but Franco plays him as a very creepy low level criminal that’s willing to do anything to anyone if it benefits him. Franco even delivers one of the films hilarious scenes when Gator stares at Sheryl (Winona Ryder) with a look of utter disgust on his face.

As enjoyable as Homefront’s characters are, the main character is as one note as they come. Not only is Broker no different from the 80’s characters that preceded him, Statham plays him the same way he plays every character in every movie he’s in – quiet and tough. Statham played a character named Parker in a terrible action film earlier this year and there’s no difference between the ways he played both. They’re the same guy with different dialogue. If Gator called him Parker in one scene, I doubt anyone would’ve noticed. For the record I like Statham. I think he’s the best action star we have and he’s good at what he does. But sometimes a little variety in your performance can go a long way.

If Homefront opened in November 1983, it would be the #1 movie in America. But in 2013, it’s just serves nostalgia for people who love 80’s action films and a reason to stay at home for those who don’t.

Grade: C