Unless it has “directed by Guy Ritchie” attached, I’m unlikely to think much of a Jason Statham film. I’ve never understood the appeal of his ultimate warrior tough guy character that he continues to play film after film and why he abandoned the comedic deft shown in Snatch and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. So, when his latest film Homefront starts with Statham rocking long black hair and a grizzly American accent, undercover as part of a violent meth-distributing biker gang, it seems like a ticket to wacky fun. The humor proves to be unintentional, however, as it’s merely sloppy means to another generic macho thrill ride.
When the DEA sting to shut down the meth operation results in gang leader Danny T (Chuck Zito) being hauled away by cops, swearing revenge for the 47 bullets in in his son Jojo (Linds Edwards), the past is bound to come back to Broker (Statham). Flash forward two years where elementary school playground bullying from Teddy Klum (Austin Craig) leaves the tormenter with a bloody nose courtesy of Broker’s daughter Maddy (Izabela Vidovic). Unintentionally jump-starting the plot, Teddy’s proud parents aren’t about to accept such an offense, especially his mom Cassie (Kate Bosworth). Sickly thin from her meth habit and razor-tongued with her husband Jimmy (Marcus Hester) and any challenger, this aggressive mama hen is a backwoods delight.
Unfortunately, no one in Homefront follows her lead, not even James Franco as her meth cook brother Gator Bodine. Sporting his As I Lay Dying scruff, he doesn’t seem to be having nearly as much fun as he should. Tasked by his sister with a little Louisiana payback, his involvement is promising yet coincides with a gradually crumbling story. His first efforts to teach Broker a lesson thwarted by the newcomer’s fighting prowess, Gator admits he doesn’t know why he’s targeting the guy, barely remembering that Maddy offended his nephew. Multiple mentions are made concerning the redneck residents’ blind family loyalty, but this extreme sense of honor would work better if Franco was willing to embrace the true trashiness of his character.
Such incongruity also pokes holes in Broker’s basic doings. If the former narc is truly hiding out, why does he remain not all that far from the biker gang’s remaining members who might recognize him? Why also does he keep boxes of confidential files in his basement, the topmost, easiest accessible of which contains the case summary of the Danny T job, which Gator scoops during his secret scare-tactic visit to the Broker home and passes, with the help of Sheryl Mott (Winona Ryder), to the incarcerated kingpin? Joyfully oblivious to these questions, Sylvester Stallone’s script, based on the novel by Chuck Logan, forges forth with plenty of beatdowns, many of which are energetically filmed by director Gary Fleder (Runaway Jury; Kiss the Girls). Statham also gets a decent number of badass one-liners which, in conjunction with his one-man wrecking crew, should be catnip for his many fans, few of whom desire much more for a stamp of approval.
Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, drug content and brief sexuality.
Homefront is currently playing at the Carolina Cinemas on Hendersonville Rd.