By Rich Cline
With a powerhouse cast and an anaemic script, this violent revenge thriller never quite gets off the ground. It's watchable for the character detail, but resolutely refuses to make any logical sense as it charges through its corny plot. Fortunately the slick filmmaking and charismatic acting hold our attention, adding a hint of sophistication to the bluntly brutal story.
It's set in the Louisiana bayou, where former undercover agent Phil (Statham) is trying to have a quiet life with his young daughter (Vidovic). But the locals are wary of outsiders, and a schoolyard confrontation escalates into a feud between Phil and a resentful woman (Bosworth) who calls her gangster brother Gator (Franco) for help in getting even. Gator quickly discovers Phil's past, then enlists his trashy pal Sheryl (Ryder) to contact Phil's old enemies. But as these ruthless thugs descend on the bayou, they fail to take into consideration the fact that Phil has nearly super-human fighting skills.
There's plenty of possibility in this rather tired premise, but Stallone's boneheaded script never bothers to make things believable, skipping over key details and indulging in trite coincidences. Fleder manages to obscure this with his fluid, pacey direction, and the cast is unusually good for such a simplistic thriller. The charismatic Statham doesn't stretch himself much, occasionally attempting a bit of real acting in the father-daughter scenes (his romance with LeFevre's teacher is never developed). Bosworth and Ryder add some unpredictable edges to their stereotypical roles. And it's Franco who steals the film as an unusually thoughtful redneck thug. Although his moral quandary doesn't put off any of the nastiness.
Indeed, this relentlessly bloodthirsty screenplay revels in each grisly set-piece while failing to convince us that grotesque violence is sometimes the only thing that can restore peace. But even as Stallone's script refuses to consider the consequences, the film manages to keep us engaged due to its above-average cast and solid production values. Fleder thankfully cuts away from the most horrific nastiness, and the actors are strong enough to almost make us forget how stupid the movie really is.
Watch 'Homefront' Trailer
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Wednesday 27th November 2013
Box Office Worldwide: $43.1M
Production compaines: Open Road Films, Millenium Films
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Cast & Crew
Starring: Jason Statham as Phil Broker, James Franco as Gator, Winona Ryder as Sheryl Mott, Rachelle Lefevre as Susan Hatch, Kate Bosworth as Cassie Bodine, Clancy Brown as Sheriff Keith Rodrigue, Frank Grillo as Cyrus Hanks, Christa Campbell as Lydia, Omar Benson Miller as Tito, Nicole Andrews as Ms. Etherby, Celeste Star as Michelle (biker chick), Stephanie Grote as Dancer, Amin Joseph as Senior Agent, Joe Chrest as DEA Agent, Izabela Vidovic as Maddy