Originally set to be a third Stallone movie for 2013, along with Bullet to the Head and Escape Plan, Sly stepped down and his Expendables BFF, Jason Statham stepped in for his third movie of 2013, after Parker and Redemption.
Written by Stallone, Homefront follows DEA/Interpol/undercover cop Phil Broker (It’s very unclear exactly who Broker originally worked for), who resigns after a particularly bad mission and retires to a small town in Louisiana with his daughter, Maddy. Maddy has a fight at school that starts a chain of events that eventually brings Broker to the attention of local criminal Gator Bodine (James Franco) who finds Broker’s undercover past and makes a deal with a ruthless motorcycle gang who’s boss is in jail because of Broker. Gator gives the bikers Broker’s location in exchange for distribution of his meth. The plot kind of feels like it’s from the 70’s, as it’s kind of slow paced and there’s lots of build up to a kind of standard finale. There’s also the kind of heavy handed, obvious, dramatic scenes that you’ve seen in other Stallone scripted movies like The Expendables (i.e. Tool’s speech)
I know the main question I had going into Homefront was, “How the hell can James Franco go toe to toe with Jason Statham?” and the answer is, he sends Frank Grillo to do the dirty work. The main mano a mano fight is between Grillo and Statham during the climactic raid on Statham’s house by the motorcycle gang. Franco is more of a schemer than a fighter, kind of like a Cajun Boyd Crowder but nowhere near as charismatic or cunning but Franco seems to be enjoying his southern fried villain role and chews scenery with bizarre looks and line readings. Statham is typical Statham, although there’s a disturbing lack of suits and Audis but he still has his lightning fast fighting style that quickly takes down most of the assorted thugs Gator sends after him. I was confused for about the first 15 minutes or so if he was actually trying to be Southern. First time actor Izabela Vidovic plays Statham’s daughter and she was very good; I got a very Chloe Grace Moretz vibe from her. Winona Ryder and Kate Bosworth are both kind of awful, although they are both supposed to be horrible, meth addicted characters but they are both one note for the entire movie.
There’s a few cool sequences in Homefront but for the most part, the action is pretty standard and unremarkable. The action feels kind of choppy as well, with noticable, jarring edits, especially during the shoot outs. The fight scenes work much better, as seems to be the usual for Statham. There’s one really cool setup where Statham breaks into Gator’s meth lab and rigs it so that when the lights are switched on, the lab will explode by Macgyvering up some explosive lightbulbs and changing the fuse box wires. I would have loved to see more back and forth escalation between Statham and Gator but they don’t get face to face until over halfway through.
As far as this year’s Statham movies, I would put this behind Redemption, which was an interesting change of pace, but way ahead of Parker, which was pretty boring and not sure if it was an action movie, heist movie or comedy. Homefront is standard Statham and would make a solid rent for fans of the Stath but you definitely don’t need to rush out and see it.