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Article by Teddy Durgin

Homefront: Stay Home Rather Than See This Statham Dud

"Homefront" starts off promisingly. It's basically the old tale of the aging gunslinger - in this case, Jason Statham's veteran DEA agent, Phil Broker - hanging up his spurs and six-shooters. Eager to forget his violent past, he seeks a quiet homestead away from trouble. But trouble always seems to find him... a town that needs a-cleanin' up and a bad guy that must be sent to his maker. In this case, the town is a scenic little Louisiana backwater, and the bad guy is a small-time meth lord named Gator (James Franco). The movie, written and co-produced by Sylvester Stallone, sets up an early emotional hook, too. Broker is a recent widower, and he moves to the tiny town to give his 10-year-old daughter, Maddie (Izabela Vidovic), a safer, quieter place to live than corrupt New Orleans. To be fair, the film's first two acts are fairly solid, if a bit simplistic. But then "Homefront" comes unhinged Alec Baldwin-style in its third act and turns into a mess. The main problem? Franco's Gator. I don't think I've ever seen a film set up a creepy, malevolent villain for a good hour of screen time... only to have that villain literally refuse to take part in the film's climax. But that's Gator! For whatever reason, the film puts Gator on the sidelines at the most crucial point in the story. It's time to go kill Broker and his daughter, and the film calls in an outside bad guy to do it - one with ties to a drug dealer Broker brought down in the film's opening. And where is Gator? In town having dinner and drinks! Then, you know eventually Broker's daughter has to be kidnapped... and it's not even Gator who does THAT! Instead, it's a former girlfriend Sheryl (Winona Ryder). And when she brings Gator the girl, he's like, "Whoa! What did you do that for?!" And she's like, "Take her! She's now our leverage!" And he's like, "Uh, I don't want her!" Gator doesn't even kill the family cat! We find out he's taken him back to his drug lair and given him a saucer of milk!!! Also in this film's third act, other promising characters introduced earlier in the film are completely squandered. Clancy Brown plays a local sheriff who is... uh... sort of corrupt. Actually, the film never decides, which makes every scene he's in completely pointless. Broker also has a flirtation with the gorgeous psychologist (Rachelle Lefevre) at his daughter's elementary school. You would think this would be leading up to her being put in some sort of danger, too. But once she helps Broker throw Maddie a 10th birthday party about halfway through the movie... she completely disappears! Similarly, Kate Bosworth is in this thing. She comes on real strong in the first half-hour of the movie as the drug-addicted and spectacularly profane sister of Gator. She absolutely hates Broker and Maddie after Maddie beats up her bullying son in the schoolyard. Every time she sees either of them, she just unleashes a stream of swear words. But when Broker and Maddie invite her son to Maddie's birthday party... the woman completely melts! She even tries to be a protector of her late in the film! I actually enjoy a good Jason Statham bust-'em-up. And "Homefront" does feature a couple of pretty good fight scenes where the man gets to strut his stuff, especially a sequence where he takes out three bad guys all while his hands are literally tied behind his back. It's a shame the script and the direction keep him and the rest of the cast tied up for the remainder of the film.

 

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