Among Jason Statham movies, Homefront is right above the middle: It does what you’d expect, but it does it a bit better than what’s been done before.
Statham is Statham, so he’s the secretive outsider with his own code of ethics, and everyone around him is obsessed with violating that code. It’s not much different from The Transporter series or Parker, which came and went without struggle earlier this year in that it provides a venue for Statham to whollop, whomp, blow up, and canoodle with the film’s other residents. He still has his accent. He still kicks ass. He still has that weird charisma that really has yet to be explored.
Specifically, here he has a hit put on him by the drug-lord father of a kid who died in a DEA raid on a meth lab. Even though Statham was clearly trying to keep the kid alive, and the father watched as everyone but Statham gunned his son down, Statham has the rotten luck of being the one marked for death. Go figure.
Anyway, Statham relocates to a small Louisiana town where, by happy chance, meth is the drug of choice. But Statham’s retired, so he finds trouble elsewhere — or rather his daughter does, on the school playground, where’s she’s bullied by the fat kid (there’s always a fat kid), and responds promptly by knocking him on his fat derriere.
The kids’ parents are called, and the mother of the fat kid (Kate Bosworth) takes an immediate dislike to Statham, to the point of putting out another hit on him, to be fulfilled by her meth-cooking brother Gator (James Franco). I think you can guess where it goes from there.
The screenplay by Sylvester Stallone, based on a novel by Chuck Logan, actually ins’t bad, and what makes Homefront bubble above its companions is the restraint. It’s not an army Statham’s up against, but rather a handful of yokels, bikers, and meth dealers. And to that extent, it does a good job setting up the prelude to its action. You know it’s coming, but it’s nice that the film tries and often achieves some suspense.
However, that degree of effort also makes you wish something similar had been put into the characters and subplots. A romance between Statham and the school psychologist (Rachelle Lefevre, for example, is heavily implied but then totally dropped. The fat kid’s mother’s drug problem is likewise introduced but never resolved or explored. Same for the hints toward child abuse.
And the supporting cast, save for Franco, either have nothing to do or don’t appear to know why they’re not doing it. Winona Ryder’s turn as gator’s girlfriend feels awkward and needless, while the immortal Clancy Brown as the town sheriff begins as an interesting, considerate, and level-headed fellow, but ends up as a hapless bumbler.
In all, I don’t think anyone expects anything great from Homefront. It’s decent fun if you want a Statham fix, and that’s about it.