Gary Fleder’s Homefront Is Spiky, But Has No Body, Kind Of Like Jason Statham’s Hair.

Jason Statham defends his home and daughter in Homefront
Jason Statham defends his home and daughter in Homefront

Gary Fleder’s new movie Homefront was a book first, by Chuck Logan. Then Sylvester Stallone got in there and adapted it into a Foley-filled action flic. I remember some trailers early on, but the film seems to have lost some steam, and bets are box office may reflect that. It stars Jason Statham and James Franco. Stallone also produces.

Homefront‘s overall a pretty cookie-cutter house. If there was depth in the novel Stallone and Millenium pictures seem to have wrestled it out and worked it into a drama-less slug-fest, which the movie promises to be as soon as you get the premise down. Jason Statham’s Phil Broker is an ex-undercover cop (“don’t walk away from me Broker!”), widower and father to smart alec but loving young-daughter (“I miss her too, honey”), and good-guy-capable-of-bad-things-very-bad-things type. He moves out of the city and into rural Louisiana after busting a motorcycle gang leader. Already lurking on the bayou, though, blinking his double-lidded eyes, is Franco’s antagonist: Gator. Gator cooks meth and doesn’t like trouble in his town, so guess what happens.

Two plots― Broker causing trouble for himself with the small town baddies, and Broker causing trouble for himself with his daughter― mutually advance from a playground altercation’s catalyst. They never really weave together, and it’s an action movie, so guess which one fizzles. Both climax with a gunfight at Broker’s home: viola Homefront. Maybe the helpless daughter in the house is a metaphor for hard-ass Broker’s own inner little girl trying to get out amid all this unwarranted violence. There is a scene with her locked in a sub-aqueous cage in a fanboat. Overall, though, the story comes off pretty disinterested in its own development, and what you probably think’s gonna happen does.

Fleder’s direction―tight shots on the well-choreographed fight scenes, intercutting, some pans of the swamp (with gators)― show the action movie of today more artful than in yesteryear, but not overall “better.” There’s a little leaning on establishing shots as well, though maybe the second time the “welcome to Rayville” sign shows up it’s there to suggest some irony. To be fair, the movie is in a sense about the violation of successive inner chambers: Proctor works as an undercover agent and moves to a small town that doesn’t like strangers, there’s a B&E, the gestured to and very particular containment procedures necessary to cook meth. The bad-boy residents of Rayville must learn that when you open a box you have to deal with its knuckle-ready contents, and Broker has to learn that you can’t just put your history in a case-file in the basement and pretend it’s not there. You can change your place but not your past: those bikers’ll follow you. The movie begins and ends on literal bridges.

Franco has fun playing the bad guy, and Gator almost develops into a really good villain, but loses his psycho edge about halfway through. Kate Bosworth puts in a good show as Gator’s crackhead sister, and Izabella Vidovic does quite well as the ten-year old daughter. There’s a cat and a couple horses, and a bunch of guns. Lots and lots of punch sounds, and a few explosions. Meth’s in right now.

Check it out if you’re a Jason Statham fan, or like Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead. Homefront comes out November 27, nationwide.

 

Zach Buck

Zach Buck is a writer and editor currently living in South Korea. He serves as the official editor of Spatial Studies magazine HEADREST. In 2016 he released experimental digital archive game house.xct_ with Other Families, and it can be read about on otherfamilies.ca.

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