There was a much more interesting movie that bookended Homefront’s main story. It was about a long haired Jason Statham infiltrating a biker gang lead by a guy called Danny T, played by Chuck Zito, and it ended with a giant police raid, featuring an intense standoff in which T’s son basically commits suicide by cop as a dozen or so uniformed officers make it rain exploding squibs on his chest while Danny T looks at Statham and swears vengeance. At this point I want the movie to go back in time and show me this movie, which basically looks like a much more badass version of the old Charlie Sheen flick ‘Above the Law’ (Two points for anyone who even remembers that little ditty.) Instead it marches onward. Three years onward to be specific, and we learn that Statham’s character, Phil Broker, has moved to a new quiet little town under a new name with his young daughter Maddy, played by twelve year old actress Izabela Vidovic, who steals the show in this movie, and outshines even James Franco in the acting department. Say what you will about Jason Statham’s range as an actor, he has demonstrated a great and admirable ability to act with children, which brings with it a whole different set of challenges at times.
In this new town it is anything but quiet and peaceful we learn. This town is controlled by a second rate meth lord who keeps everyone under thumb with his three bumbling stooge underlings, who at one point in the movie get the crap beat out of them by Statham while his arms are tied behind his back. Hands!? Jason Statham don’t need no stinking hands to kick your redneck asses! Anyway, we learn that Broker’s wife/Maddy’s mother (who we never meet) has passed away from cancer in the three years we flashed forward. This leaves Maddy with some understandable issues, and of course with only Jason Statham as a role model, she gets in trouble for beating the crap out of a bully at school. This bully also happens to be the child of the town meth lord’s sister, and when she eggs on her husband to take revenge upon Statham, you can probably guess fairly accurately how that turns out. Eventually her brother, the meth lord, played by James Franco comes to save the day.
The tagline of this movie reads “How far would you go to protect your home?” Well, how about locking your front door for starters? I know I’m not a badass one man wrecking crew like Jason Statham’s character here, but you almost have to laugh at the scene where James Franco’s meth lord character simply walks up to our hero’s house and even beckons “It’s open” before going and helping himself to some conveniently placed files in the basement. They are so conveniently placed in fact that the first folder he grabs contains the entire back-story of Statham’s ex-undercover cop character to use as leverage against him. It also provides a good excuse to bring a horde of bikers riding into town, so you know, Statham can kill them all.
Now all that being said, I don’t want to come down too hard on this little popcorn flick right here. I have a feeling the twelve year old version of myself would have downright loved this movie, whereas the 28 year old me simply chuckles at it for the most part, although there were some satisfying scenes in it nonetheless. James Franco in particular looked to be having a great time here playing the lead heavy. His character’s name is “Gator Bodine” which made me laugh probably more than it should have. He also has a girlfriend played by Winona Ryder, who I initially mixed up with the character of his sister, which made me do a double take when they started doing the old rumpy pumpy together. “Oh crap, they went there” I thought, but it was my mistake.
In some of the supporting action we get Omar Benson Miller (Who looks like the lovechild of wrestler D-Lo Brown and Forest Whitaker) stars as Tito, who just shows up midway through the movie to be the classic “Black friend who gets shot/killed helping the hero…” The long faced Clancy Brown (The prison guard from Shawshank) stars as the corrupt Sherriff who wants to redeem himself. Frank Grillo plays Cyrus Hanks, the enforcer of the motorcycle gang mentioned above who comes to avenge his imprisoned leader. In another great chuckle worthy bit of action movie cliché’s, Winona Ryder’s twerker character tells us all we need to know about Cyrus when she complains on the phone to her boyfriend when she has to meet him to set up a deal saying he’s “real bad news” etc…
Claudio Martinez-Valle of 4moviefreaks.com (A fine blog I might add before I proceed any further with this skewering) writes in his preview of Homefront’s trailer “If you like ‘Breaking Bad’ you might like this film, starring Oscar nominee James Franco and Jason Statham.” That’s sort of like writing “If you like William Faulkner’s ‘The Sound and the Fury”, you might like Larry the Cable Guy in ‘Jingle All The Way 2’, after all, they’re both southerners, you see. About the only thing that Breaking Bad has in common with Homefront is that they both have actors in them, and some fairly talented ones at that (only one of them has material equal to and deserving of its actors though), and that there is meth featured in the plot. As far as creativity and artistic quality, this movie does not merit mentioning in the same paragraph as one of the greatest television shows of the past twenty-five years.
Again I must temper that negativity by saying I enjoyed this movie about the same as I do all Jason Statham movies. I am not above enjoyable mindless action, and this movie was certainly full of that. And when you chuck in some decent actors, it makes the paper thin story a little less noticeable, although to be sure, it is still very noticeable. This is one of those movies that can be enjoyed two ways. Your twelve your self will enjoy it the same way it enjoyed those old Steven Segal movies, while your adult self will chuckle at the absurdity of it all. In a movie starring Jason Statham, and written by Sylvester Stallone, what else would you expect?
Homefront gets a three out of five: GOOD.