“Homefront,” a new actioner starring Jason Statham and James Franco emoting from a script written by Sylvester Stallone, is the kind of movie that probably plays best on VHS. It feels like an old-school action flick, one that might have starred Stallone in the early nineties, that might be best seen through a haze of snowy grain.
But the real advantage to watching this on video would be the chance to fast forward through all the slow bits.
Statham plays Phil Broker, a former undercover cop who left law-and-order behind after a sting went bad and a biker drug lord’s son was executed. Now he leads a quiet life with his ten-year-old daughter Maddy (Izabela Vidovic) in Rayville, Louisiana, a backwoods town one resident ominously describes as, “a bit like Appalachia… feuds can happen here.”
Sure enough Broker and his daughter become the talk of the town when Maddy punches a bully at recess. What should have been a schoolyard scrap escalates when the bully’s mom (an emaciated Kate Bosworth) asks her meth-dealing brother Gator (Franco) to pay Broker a visit and even the score.
Before you can say Hatfields and McCoys, Gator is causing trouble. He discovers the truth about Broker’s past and in addition to fueling some good old fashioned feudin’ he hatches a plan with his “meth whore” girlfriend Sheryl (Winona Ryder) to hand over Broker to the bikers he double crossed in return for a meth distribution deal.
It sounds exciting—it hits all the b-movie b’s, bikers, babes and bullies—but Statham is at his best when he’s busting heads and the movie provides relatively little of that. Sure he nails a guy to a post with a knife and pushes another dude’s head through a car window but he spends most of the movie in family guy mode.
He cares for his daughter, her stuffed bunny and cat Luther, and the movie really wants us to know it but endless scenes of Broker mooning over his daughter grind the story to a halt. Too bad there’s no fast forward button at the theatre.
In other words, I liked it when Statham was punching people. I liked it less when he wasn’t.