Tuesday 18 February 2014


(Gary Fleder, 2013)

Very much like an action thriller from another era - theres a lot of the 1980s here, and possibly even more of the 1970s - Homefront is never quite brave enough to go all-out to satisfy the sort of pulp cravings those movies effortlessly catered to.
Despite the presence of Jason Statham in the lead as retired undercover cop Phil Broker, director Fleder makes it all a little too slick and a little too mainstream to work. The screenplay - by Sylvester Stallone, a reliably canny creator in terms of base action thrills - is brutal and simplistic and classical in construction. Broker and his 9 year old daughter are living in a small Louisiana town after his (pre-credits) involvement in a massive operation to bring down a Biker gang ended in much bloodshed. A schoolyard altercation between his daughter and a bully escalates until the local drug kingpin, Gator Bodine (James Franco, surprisingly bland) becomes involved, discovers who Broker is, and calls in the Biker gang for help in disposing of this quiet man with devastating combat acumen.
The smalltown Louisiana setting works well, and the cast is unexpectedly starry for this sort of material, with the likes of Kate Bosworth and Winona Ryder both good in small parts as desperate women of different stripes, and Frank Grillo reliably nasty as a Biker assassin.
Fleder can do action competently, too, and Statham has a few impressive fight scenes. But competence is about as good as it gets. Its never delirious enough or offensively violent enough or bleak enough or funny enough. It sets up its familiar story, you know exactly what will happen, then that happens.
Which is perhaps what many Statham fans want of a Statham film. But he's capable of more. Films like this - with a sprinkling of cinematic pedigree - are small steps towards something more.
And its frustrating when they don't get there.

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