Since this is a Jason Statham movie, Homefront begins with gunfire, a high-speed chase, a series of outrageous explosions and—of course—hand-to-hand combat. Broker (Statham, steady as ever) is an undercover DEA agent (with terrible hair) about to bust up a biker gang’s big-time meth operation. When Broker and his DEA cohorts finish dropping the hammer on the gang, enemies are made and vengeance is sworn.
The film fast-forwards to “today.” Children are having fun on a school playground. The focus shifts to one little girl (Izabela Vidovic), as she hangs from a jungle gym. Coming in closer, we realize she’s serious, intent . . . and thus, obviously, Broker’s kid. When she subsequently takes down the class bully, it’s no surprise. She does create an enemy, however, in the person of the bully’s mom (Kate Bosworth), and this starts an old-fashioned redneck-style feud in this small Louisiana Gulf Coast town.
Bosworth is hilarious—and initially unrecognizable—as the meth-addicted Cassie Bodine. She goes right to her brother Gator, the local meth-lab king, to put a scare into this uppity little girl and her dad.
James Franco is Gator. He brings the right combination of menace and redneck cunning to the role: Gator wants to move up in the crime world, but he also wants to maintain his status in the community. When he discovers Broker’s undercover past, he realizes he can use this to benefit his meth business.
The direction (by Gary Fleder) is just efficient, but Sylvester Stallone’s overachieving screenplay is better than it needed to be. The “small town gangster undone by his ambition” arc for Franco’s character is nicely developed. And many scenes are spiced up with fun details—as when another character’s unease at meeting some very bad people is ramped up by having to deal with an inconvenient shellfish allergy.
Statham again proves he’s as good with kids as he is with his fists. The supporting cast is solid, and includes Winona Ryder (excellent) as a wily biker chick, Clancy Brown as a quasi-corrupt sheriff and Omar Benson Miller as the obligatory stalwart friend who suffers for knowing Statham’s Broker.
The only peculiar aspect of Homefront is its title, which seems an odd choice for a film that has nothing to do with the military or any of our various international adventures. Maybe it was chosen to suggest, simply, that we worry about our own backyard for a change.