With “Homefront,” what you see is what you get. It’s nothing more or nothing less – just an old-fashioned good versus evil movie.
As usual, the character of virtue here is a person who does not seek out trouble, but does not back down when confronted by it. Also, this person may seem to be outnumbered, but the ferocity of his or her passion for survival is relentless and nearly impossible to subdue.
This is a role that is tailor-made for Jason Statham. He stars in “Homefront” as Phil Broker, a former undercover DEA agent, recently widowed, who settles in a small rural town with his daughter Maddy (Izabela Vidovic), who is about to celebrate her 10th birthday. Phil just wants to blend in, but as with many small communities, he is an outsider subjected to close scrutiny.
Trouble begins when Maddy is pushed around by a bully at school, Teddy Klum (Austin Craig), and responds by punching out the boy. Phil is called to the school and what should be a minor incident is inflamed by Teddy’s irate mother, Cassie (an emaciated Kate Bosworth), a woman with a drug habit who just will not let the playground confrontation blow over. When her husband Jimmy (Marcus Hester) tries to muscle Phil, he, like his son, gets flattened.
So Cassie pays a visit to her brother, “Gator” Bodine (James Franco), whose boat repair shop is a front for a small-time meth operation. Gator has some local power and Cassie wants him to pull a little intimidation number on Phil. That also backfires.
Meanwhile, the local gendarme, Sheriff Keith Rodrigue (Clancy Brown), is what you would expect from a small-town law enforcement officer – basically hard-working and honest but open to compromise when dealing with both Gator’s illegal activities and Phil’s growing list of physical encounters that are leaving some guys broken and bloodied.
Gator’s small-time shenanigans, which also include stealing one of Maddy’s stuffed toys and kidnapping her cat Luther, only lead to Phil paying him a visit to say, hey I don’t want any trouble, but YOU definitely do not want any trouble from me. Gator snoops around in Phil’s house and finds boxes stuffed with old files that chronicle Broker’s past as a DEA agent.
This allows Gator to go beyond his own jurisdiction. He enlists an old girlfriend, Sheryl (Winona Ryder), a lady whose own drug dependency past can hook her up with some big-time people who had a history with Phil and are harboring a grudge against him, to enlist them in taking out Phil.
So now there is the inevitable battle between a man, who does have one ally, against a bunch of thugs. It ain’t gonna be a fair fight, especially when the added complication of Maddy being put in jeopardy is thrown in.
Notable is that the screenplay is by Sylvester Stallone, an adaptation from a novel by Chuck Logan. This supposedly was going to be a vehicle for Stallone but the age factor kicked in, so it was handed down to Statham. It is not a complex story, and the characters are basic. Statham is low-key but dedicated to his daughter, wanting only a good life for her but ready to fight fiercely to protect her. Franco basically mails this one in. His only memorable scene is the one in which he is introduced, showing a vicious side that also falsely implies he is for law and order but actually is for protecting his own interests. Young Vidovic, who looks like she could be Statham’s daughter, shows a lot of spunk and clear-headed thinking, much like her father, when things get out of hand.
A couple of plot items are left hanging. Whether they were eliminated via editing are so simply tossed aside and never filmed is unknown. Perhaps they may show up in an extended DVD version. Speaking of editing, once again, rapid editing mars some of the best action scenes. With a performer of Statham’s physical skills, it is annoying to not allow his scenes to flow smoothly without all the cuts.