Blu-Ray review: ‘Homefront’

[originally posted, with a few changes, to Blogcritics]

Jason Statham and James Franco are front and center on the Bluray box for Homefront, but for me, the real attraction was the screenwriter: Academy Award nominee* Sylvester Stallone.

Stallone, it turns out, adapted Chuck Logan’s novel into a screenplay a few years back, with the intention of taking the lead role himself.  But by the time the project came together, he was too old for the part – so he drafted his Expendables co-star, Jason Statham, to take over.

As a former DEA agent (a few INTERPOL cards are seen, which presumably explain why the very British Statham is working in New Orleans) Phil Broker decided to retire after a drug bust that led to a young biker – the gang leader’s son – being shot about 10,000 times.

A widower, he packed up his young daughter (Izabela Vidovic, actually quite good) and relocated to Ray, Louisiana, the kind of small southern town where every home is known as “the old [Blank] property.”

Unfortunately for Broker, his new community has also been hit pretty hard by the meth epidemic, and before long he’s clashing with a perennially angry, unnervingly thin tweaker (Kate Bosworth) whose bully of a son was beaten up by Broker’s daughter on the playground.

After her wimpy husband is quickly put in his place by Statham, she drafts her meth-dealing brother (Franco) into exacting revenge.  The brother is named “Gator Bodine,” which is by far my favorite thing about any movie released in the past year.  Before long Broker’s past has been discovered, and the biker gang is rolling into town for a final showdown.

If you’ve seen one Jason Statham performance, you’ve pretty much seen them all.  That’s good and bad – his charisma and fighting skills more than make up for the fact that you can barely understand any of his dialogue.  (Like The Sweeney, a British action movie I reviewed a few weeks ago, you might want to turn the English subtitles on for this one.)

Fortunately, the supporting cast is mostly very good – especially Franco, who gives his character much more depth than one would expect from a Louisiana meth-cooking villain named “Gator Bodine.”  (When – SPOILER ALERT! – his meth lab gets done blowed up, Gator actually looks hurt more than angry.)  Bosworth and Winona Ryder, as Franco’s girlfriend, are both almost unrecognizable and do pretty well playing against type.

Directed by Gary Fleder (Kiss the Girls) and beautifully shot by Theo van de Sande, Homefront does everything that’s expected of it and not one bit more.  You want Jason Statham kicking ass for 100 minutes, and you get Jason Statham kicking ass for 100 minutes.  It’s the kind of movie you find yourself watching on a Saturday afternoon, enjoying it and then forgetting about it the second it’s over.

On Blu-Ray the Louisiana scenery looks absolutely stunning, and the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound is great, though still not quite good enough to make you understand what the hell Statham is saying.  There’s also a DVD and an Ultraviolet download, but special features are sparse – just an extremely brief featurette and a few deleted scenes, some of which still feature the green screen behind the actors.

*Rocky, 1976. You were expecting Driven?

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