Statham, Franco are mismatched in "Homefront"

Fort Worth Star-TelegramNovember 27, 2013 


    Rated: R for strong violence, pervasive strong language, drug content, brief sexuality. Starring: Jason Statham, James Franco, Wynona Ryder. Director: Gary Fleder. Running time: 100 minutes. Theaters: Edwards 22 and Edwards 9, Edwards 14 and Edwards 12 in Nampa, Majestic 18 and Village Cinema in Meridian.

“Homefront” should be a lot more fun than it is.

Jason Statham and James Franco squaring off over meth with a script by Sylvester Stallone? Sounds like a guilty pleasure, right?

Unfortunately, the result is a rather rote action thriller that only comes alive during the well-staged fight scenes. Fortunately, there are quite a few of them.

Statham is Phil Broker, a DEA agent who has retired to a small town in Louisiana with his young daughter (Izabela Vidovic).

His last big takedown — the bust of a Shreveport drug ring and biker gang — went awry with the son of the drug lord dying in a hail of bullets. So, Brooker, a single dad, decides a quieter, less lethal way of life might be in order.

Too bad he picked a town where a man named Gator (Franco) and his druggie girlfriend (Wynona Ryder) control the local meth supply and don’t want some former fed snooping around. It doesn’t help that Franco’s sister-in-law, a loud and mouthy Kate Bosworth, has it in for Broker since her bully of a son was beat up by Broker’s daughter in front of the entire school.

The problem with this Statham-vs.-Franco showdown is that while Statham is his usual jaw-breaking, steely self, the Franco that shows up here is not that much of an adversary. He can’t fight, and he’s not too bright. Now, if the Franco character from “Spring Breakers” had shown up — with his dreads, guns, bling and bucketload of crazy — then “Homefront” might have been a better movie.

Gator does have some nasty-looking allies — most notably a buffed-up Frank Grillo (“End of Watch,” “Disconnect,” “Zero Dark Thirty”) playing against type as a brutal biker. But it’s still not enough to make “Homefront” any more interesting, especially as it winds down to a predictable third act where Broker’s daughter is kidnapped and the explosions start.

Based on a novel by Chuck Logan and directed by TV-series vet Gary Fleder, “Homefront” at least moves quickly. Still, it feels generic in the extreme. And that’s no fun at all.

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