HOMEFRONT (2013)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Strong Violence, Pervasive Language, Language, Drug Content and brief Sexuality

Homefront poster

Directed by: Gary Fleder

Written by: Sylvester Stallone

(based on the novel HOMEFRONT by Chuck Logan)

Starring: Jason Statham, James Franco, Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth, Clancy Brown, Frank Grillo & Rachelle Lefevre

Plenty of people make jokes about Jason Statham always starring in the same movie. The scenario may be slightly tweaked, but he’s playing the same role over and over. He’s kind of like the British Schwarzenegger and has carved out a niche (as well as gained a fanbase) for himself. The man knows how to kick ass and take names (performing all of his own stunts). With HOMEFRONT, the premise was there for an old-school action-thriller based on a pulp novel. The material seemed like it could work to a certain degree, but Sylvester Stallone’s script (yes, action star Stallone penned this) winds up being a bore. The action scenes themselves play out like viewers have seen countless in other better movies going through these motions. You can certainly do far better as far as Statham’s films go. I’d dare say that HOMEFRONT is probably one of the worst things he’s been involved in.

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Reeling from the unexpected loss of his wife and a drug sting gone horribly wrong, former-undercover agent Phil Broker has moved his little daughter, Maddy, to a new location. It’s a quiet little country town where everyone knows everyone else and the locals protect their own. When Maddy violently retaliates against a schoolyard bully, the brat’s yokel parents get involved. The wife in the white-trash couple happens to be sister to the community’s meth king. Things spiral out of control from there with Phil getting into fist fights with thugs, facing off against the drug lord, and dealing with a troubling coincidence that brings back his violent past.

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Jason Statham plays his usual Jason Statham with all its Jason Stathamness. However, some other familiar actors appear here. The great Clancy Brown shows up as the town’s sheriff. Winona Ryder and Kate Bosworth play two trashy foul-mouthed meth heads, but look like crack whores (which isn’t too big of a difference now that I think about it). The other headliner that appears next to Statham is James Franco as the big bad meth boss. He’s simply known as Gator. With an unconvincing Southern drawl, Franco proves himself to be woefully miscast. His villainy goes into over-the-top clichéd territory that’s been seen a million times. The man just isn’t convincing as a scary or intimidating presence. At least, he didn’t come off as the least bit tough in this film.

HOMEFRONT, from left: Clancy Brown, Jason Statham, 2013. ph: Justin Lubin/©Open Road Films/courtesy

To make matters even more strange, Sylvester Stallone wrote the script and it doesn’t go nearly as balls-out as it should have with this premise. This is an action movie star who writes an action movie and shows more scenes of Statham playing a concerned father than him whooping ass on any tough guy who sends a funny look his direction. The action scenes are filmed in that ridiculously overused shaky-cam style that renders everything almost incomprehensible at certain points. This is an action movie with no memorable action scenes, interesting characters, or a creative plot.

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Standard is one word that can be applied to HOMEFRONT over and over again. It’s nothing special. To be fair to Stallone’s writing abilities, I’m positive that the pulpy novel was probably not a piece of high literature to begin with. There wasn’t a damn thing that stood out in this entire film though. The violence isn’t exciting and there seemed to be some moments that directly contradicted things that the viewer was told early on. The dark tone doesn’t help matters either. HOMEFRONT tries to have the ridiculous B-flick action clichés and maintain a serious note the whole way through. Statham can single-handedly subdue everyone around him with his hands tied behind his back or can appear behind someone in a single second, when we clearly saw him incapacitated a mere moment ago. These silly tropes can be used successfully in certain pieces of entertainment, but HOMEFRONT takes the straight-faced approach to all of these and suffers massively for it.

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Fans of Jason Statham (of which I consider myself a moderate one) will find themselves bored with HOMEFRONT. Those looking for an interesting thriller are best to look elsewhere. Seeing as Stallone wrote this piece of crap and Statham headlined in it, along with a grossly miscast James Franco, this is a pretty big letdown in the sense that it could have been big dumb fun. Instead, HOMEFRONT may as well be titled GENERIC ACTION MOVIE #1537.

Grade: D

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