Homefront isn’t a great film yet still more than watchable fare especially for Statham who is on top of his game even if his character is more or less the same as we’ve seen before. The action is half-decent but the fights are tough and well done helping one ignore a messy plot and two-dimensional characters played by actors who probably deserved better.
Genre(s): Action, Crime, Drama
Universal | R – 101 min. – $34.98 | March 11, 2014
THE MOVIE – 3.75/5
A Jason Statham movie rarely verges from the formula of the quiet tough guy whose life gets uprooted to some plot device. You’ve seen this in the The Transporter franchise, Crank 1 & 2, The Mechanic and Parker. Some of these are fluff action pieces while others take themselves a bit too seriously and aren’t a whole lot of fun to watch; his latest, Homefront, attempts to blend the two with some serious drama, where his daughter is in danger, with the fun and oft awesome fight scenes. Hardly perfect, I actually enjoyed this outing even if Statham more or less plays the same characters we’ve seen countless times in the past.
Homefront, which was conceived by Sylvester Stallone – based on a novel by Chuck Logan – as a Rambo movie eons ago, languished in development hell before being picked up as a Statham action vehicle. Here Statham plays Phil Broker, a former undercover DEA agent who, in the film’s prologue, had taken down a major meth dealer, “Danny T” (CHUCK ZITO), which resulted in said dealer’s son being killed in a blaze of bullets.
With his cover blown, Broker and his precocious, street-fighter prowess daughter Maddy (IZABELA VIDOVIC), and like any good cinema daughter, as previously seen in Sleepless in Seattle, wants nothing more than for her dad to get a girlfriend and in this movie, it’s school psychologist Susan Hetch (RACHELLE LEFEVRE) though save for a couple of scenes, this plot line and character is dropped; there was no purpose for her and could’ve been cut and it would not have been missed, though Ms. Lefevre is an attractive woman so nothing wrong with some eye-candy.
Meanwhile, Broker hasn’t exactly ingratiated himself in the small hick town when he takes down a belligerent father whose son had been picking on and got beaten up by Maddy earlier. This ticks off the mother (KATE BOSWORTH) who enlists her meth maker/dealer brother Gator (JAMES FRANCO) to exact revenge for Broker’s actions. This puts Broker on the town sheriff’s (CLANCY BROWN) radar and being pals with Gator, might not be the best thing.
After Broker beats the living crap out of two thugs, Gator does some reconnaissance work breaking into Broker’s home, stealing the daughter’s favorite toy and her kitten (bastard!!!) and doing some snooping in a crawl space underneath the plantation home, finds Broker’s files from his days in the DEA including his alias and old photo with a ridiculous hair. Now, why would a paranoid guy just wanting to live the quiet life would keep such files close by? Hell if I know, but Gator sure has hell puts it to good use to leverage a larger distribution for his meth by giving the info, through girlfriend and fellow meth maker Sheryl (WINONA RYDER), to Danny T of course still out for blood.
It’s a battle of wills between the former agent who kicks ass versus an overconfident and overinflated meth dealer coming to a head and, while one knows where the plot is going from the prologue on, the action and fight scenes were well choreographed giving impact with each brutal punch making use of its R-rating. It’s what one would expect from a Jason Statham movie.
The performances are all fairly standard from Statham who once again plays the same type of character we’ve seen numerous times before but unlike some, he has great charisma that no matter how poor the script may be, he often can overcome any imperfections in the story (I include the Transporter sequels in that). Izabela Vidovic as the daughter isn’t overly annoying but she does come close to the line of annoyance that I find movie kids play a prominent role. Here she has that obnoxious precociousness only seen in film and her insistence on her father dating the teacher just didn’t quite seem right. James Franco serves well enough in the placeholder of what is supposed to be the villain and he plays it right, though the role doesn’t have much to it.
In regards to the supporting cast, it’s an impressive group that includes Winona Ryder, a nearly unrecognizable Kate Bosworth done-up in trailer trash/meth-head style and Clancy Brown is fun seeing as the sheriff that I wish he’d get more prominent roles. None are of particularly noteworthy in their performances but Ryder has a couple good scenes.
Homefront was helmed by Gary Fleder whose career has neither been mired in travesty nor garnered high praise as seen in movies like Kiss the Girls, Don’t Say a Word, Runaway Jury and even Impostor. Nothing amazing but nothing terrible, just middle of the road and that’s where this film lands as a serviceable Statham action vehicle, nothing more and nothing less.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1.5/5
This release does come with a semi-glossy slip cover. Inside the case contains a standard DVD Copy and an authorization code for the UltraViolet and/or iTunes Digital Copy.
Standoff (2:41; HD) is an EPK featurette with general cast/crew sound bites.
Deleted Scenes (8:38; HD) – We get a few scenes excised mostly for pacing issues but there is an alternate ending of sorts where we get closure of the teacher and Phil and Maddy moving out of town.
Previews – Sabotage, Rush, The Best Man Holiday, 47 Ronin, Ride Along
VIDEO – 5.0/5
Homefront arrives on Blu-ray presented in its original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and in 1080p high-definition. The picture, filmed digitally on the Arri Alexa camera, is brilliant in HD with excellent detail levels throughout, bright colors during daylight scenes and starkness in the night shots which shows flaws like artifacts and pixilation.
AUDIO – 4.75/5
The movie includes a vigorous 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio taking advantage of the numerous third act explosions and gunplay, which make fine use of the front and rear channels, while also keeping dialogue levels from the center channel nice and clear.
OVERALL – 3.75/5
Overall, Homefront isn’t a great film yet still more than watchable fare especially for Statham who is on top of his game even if his character is more or less the same as we’ve seen before. The action is half-decent but the fights are tough and well done helping one ignore a messy plot, including a romantic angle that is dropped completely, and two-dimensional characters played by actors who probably deserved better. The Blu-ray released by Universal is thin on features but both the audio and video transfers are top notch.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.