Directed by Gary Fleder
It takes movies like “Homefront” to remind us how not to make movies. Director Gary Fleder (“Runaway Jury”) takes an embarrassing Sylvester Stallone script (based on the novel by Chuck Logan) and makes a repetitive “Straw Dogs”/“Fatal Attraction” mash-up that we didn’t need to see on screen more times than we have already.
It starts out like the unnecessary “Straw Dogs” remake – an out-of-towner, Phil Broker (Jason Statham), ex-DEA, moves to a small, tight-knit Louisiana town. After a schoolyard scuffle pits his daughter against a young boy with a family full of meth tweakers and cold-blooded murderers, Broker and his daughter are put in danger. That’s where the “Fatal Attraction” part – I guess “Fatal Repulsion” would be more fitting – comes in. Gator (James Franco), the uncle of the young boy, goes to unnecessary extremes to try to scare Broker out of town. He doesn’t back down, so Gator wrestles up a few of his buddies to make “Homefront” a home invasion movie to forget.
Considering this is a Jason Statham movie, it does have some well-choreographed fight scenes. And sure, there are a few cheap explosions and some cool shootouts. But that’s the extent of my praise. More often than not, “Homefront” takes everyday situations and adds angry rednecks and melodramatic music to make them seem more dramatic than they actually are. Only in this fictional town, apparently, do you have to beat up four guys just to be able to fill your Ford with gas. It makes you say “Well, that escalated quickly” over and over again. Like most bad action movies, “Homefront” is all talk until the action-packed final scenes. But, like most bad action movies, those final scenes can’t make up for an hour or more of unbearable dialogue and terrible acting.
This is what I get for expecting James Franco to surprise me. Take the James Franco you know from movies like “Pineapple Express” and “This Is The End.” Now, do nothing to him. This is the James Franco you see in “Homefront,” a man who looks at all times high and at no time intimidating. He’s horribly miscast and under-acts like he’s being directed to. Thankfully, his girlfriend/partner-in-crime Winona Ryder overbalances Franco with her over-acting. If there was an award show for over-acting, her role in “Homefront” would earn Ryder the award for Best Supporting Over-Actress. She screams, she uses her hands a lot, she is on the verge of tears, but she can’t convince anyone. Jason Statham plays the Jason Statham character of every other movie he’s been in, except this time he’s also a dad. So, thankfully, Kate Bosworth is there to set the acting balance at ease. As the hillbilly sister of Gator and mother of the young boy, she handles her role with the amount of control we expect from the other acting veterans with whom she scares screentime.
In my small theater, audience members were laughing at “Homefront,” not with it. It was sad, really. Nobody sees a Jason Statham movie in order to witness the future winner of the Academy Award for Best Screenplay, but they should get their money’s worth. “Homefront” doesn’t deliver.