Review: ‘Homefront’ – Feels like 80s action

There are dozens of reasons to slam the new Jason Statham film, “Homefront”, the least of which is its misleading movie poster that has the British action star swathed in the stars and stripes of the American flag, which, when coupled with the film’s title, persuades one to believe that this is patriotic post-war flick of some kind – it’s not. But, nevertheless, it’s still a pretty good old-school action flick and on that level it’s a decent way to spend a Saturday afternoon with a bag of popcorn.

This film is loosely based on the book, “Homefront”, by author Chuck Logan, who has a whole series of novels featuring the badass military veteran/veteran cop, Phil Broker (played by Jason Statham). Statham’s pal, Sylvester Stallone, wrote the screenplay for this film and you can easily tell his fingerprints are all over it. This is the kind of story that I’m sure the “Italian Stallion” writes in his sleep; and I don’t mean that in a bad way, because I have a soft spot in my heart for cheesy Stallone action vehicles.

The movie begins with Broker undercover as a biker in the “Outcasts” motorcycle gang (you gotta love it) which is in the meth - cooking business among other nefarious endeavors. When the police bust their lab operation, Broker is exposed to the gang leader, Danny T (Chuck Zito), whose son is killed during the biker/cop melee, and, of course, Broker is blamed for the biker’s death.

Flash forward as Broker and his daughter, Maddy (Izabela Vidovic), have gone into hiding in some backwater Louisiana swamp where they end up fighting against redneck kids and their parents (including Kate Bosworth as a meth addicted mom), and a redneck wannabe meth kingpin, Gator Bodine (James Franco), and his skanky girlfriend, Sheryl (Winona Ryder), who have obviously seen too many episodes of Breaking Bad.

When Gator steals Maddy’s kitten he crosses the line and it’s on between the former cop and the gang of backwoods boneheads, with Gator enlisting the help of Danny T’s gang to boot. As goofy as it sounds this all makes for some fun action sequences and tough-guy one-liners, which is the point of movies like this – for my money, the cornier the better.

I’m not a huge Statham fan, but he does a good job in this film; although I have to admit that I was envisioning Stallone in this part throughout the entire movie and thinking he could have killed this role – old-age be damned. The movie also has a very small appearance by the ravishing Rachelle Lefevre (Under the Dome), who doesn’t do much except look great, and Clancy Brown plays a small town sheriff who is on the take.

It was rather odd to see Franco, Ryder and Bosworth in this film as all three actors seem to be of a much higher caliber than the parts they play here; but, hey, I guess everyone needs a paycheck and they do a fine job as swamp-rat meth entrepreneurs – especially Franco.

Homefront is directed by Gary Fleder, who mostly does television work, but does have a couple of feature films on his resume, like 1997’s Kiss the Girls with Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd. This is obviously no Citizen Kane, or even a First Blood, but it is a fun throwback to the action films of the eighties and I give kudos to Stallone and Statham for keeping that fire burning. Grade: 6/10

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