Phil Broker: Whatever you’re thinking, rethink it.
On a scale of 1-10, or the Statham-scale from CRANK to TRANSPORTER, HOMEFRONT leans more towards the latter. The “Jason Statham formula” is in full effect here. His character, Phil Broker, has got a sordid past; he has someone he cares about and needs to protect that someone when that past inevitably catches up to him. It’s almost as if Statham has made it his personal life mission to make sure the world knows that actions have consequences and is teaching this important lesson through his films. For me, his movies live and die with who his co-star and antagonist are. The Stath will always be The Stath, but how much I care about the supporting players in his films always dictates whether or not I care if he succeeds or if I’m just in it for the fights and to see him with his shirt off. SPOILER: He keeps it on this time. Sorry.
Broker is an ex-DEA agent who has left that life to take better care of his kid after his wife passes away. His wife once told him she was fond of the town she grew up in and felt he and their daughter should live there, so this is where he heads after she dies. Once there, it doesn’t take long for his daughter, Maddy (Izabela Vidovic) to get into a fight. This Louisiana town is described as being one of those towns where people still have active vendettas with people they have beef with. Cassie Bodine (Kate Bosworth), is a methadone addict, who has such beef with Broker and this escalates when she recruits her brother, Gator’s (James Franco) help to scare Broker out of town. Gator, the town’s drug lord, soon discovers that Broker was an undercover cop who helped put a mutual acquaintance in jail and puts a plan in place to both expand his business and help this acquaintance get his revenge.
While Statham does have a love interest in the film, played by Montreal’s Rachelle Lefevre (TWILIGHT, WHITE HOUSE DOWN), she is merely an afterthought or a tool used to connect us with the real “protectee”, his daughter, Maddy (played by Vidovic, “Zombieland” TV movie). She’s no Abilgail Breslin, but she has enough charisma and acting ability to make me care what happens to her, which in turn made me want Statham to win that much more. As for the antagonist, Franco’s Gator is a rube, meth cook straight out of the series “Justified”. I have always found Franco to be fairly overrated. In the past, Franco has described his soap opera work as performance art or flexing other acting muscles; I call it living up to his potential. In HOMEFRONT, he plays James Franco with a clichéd redneck accent. He is naturally the guy with whom you do not want to mess with and while he and his sidekick, played by Winona Ryder, never quite reach full on evil status, their actions do set things in motion for a pretty climactic showdown.
Director, Gary Fleder (DON’T SAY A WORD), chooses that choppy, close-up style made famous in the Bourne series to tell his story. Either Fleder himself has a three-second attention span or he thought the audience would only pay attention for that long, because his cuts are quick and chaotic and visually, HOMEFRONT left me with a bit of a headache. All the same, the pacing of the film was steady, even if the camera work wasn’t. There were a couple of times in the movie that I had to ask myself why Broker didn’t just take his daughter and leave town but, as previously mentioned, I don’t see Statham movies for their plots. It’s not on par with TRANSPORTER, but it is better than a lot of his more recent movies. The Stath may make the same movie over and over, but he and Vidovic had great chemistry, which made HOMEFRONT a fairly standard action movie with some unexpected heart. Seriously though, three layers and a trucker hat the whole movie, would it have killed him to take his shirt off?