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Homefront – Review

Homefront_PosterI’m not really a Jason Statham fan, though I’ve been watching his more recent pictures and I definitely enjoy watching him opposite Sylvester Stallone in The Expendables series.  So when I heard that Sly wrote a movie that Statham was starring in, I was interested.  Then with Gary Fleder directing, it could go either way.  I love Things To Do in Denver When You’re Dead, but he hasn’t made anything that good since then.  The good news is that Fleder has assembled an excellent cast – James Franco, Kate Bosworth, Winona Ryder, Clancy Brown, Omar Benson Miller, Rachelle Lefevre, Frank Grillo, Chuck Zito and Pruitt Taylor Vince.  Most of them have limited screen time and leave you wanting more, but that’s often the sign of a good movie.

It’s interesting that a simple playground fight really sets the plot in motion.  The violence escalates very believably as the tension builds leading to an ultra violent climax.  It never becomes crazy over the top and unbelievable and I appreciate that very much.  Sadly, Fleder doesn’t shoot the action very well.  It is all flashy and confusing which is all the more disappointing considering I’m sure that Statham could do any of the moves required to just flat out photograph it without shaky camerawork or quick cutting.  The bone crunching fights still work, but could have been handled much better.

Statham is solid as Phil Broker, but he doesn’t do anything that he hasn’t done before.  It’s a standard role for him.  He has a sweet relationship with his daughter played by Izabela Vidovic and those scenes are handled well.  There is a hint of romance between him and Rachelle Lefevre, but nothing more.  Wonder if there are scenes on the cutting room floor?

The true revelation of Homefront is Kate Bosworth.  Her performance is fantastic.  The smoking hot surfer chick from Blue Crush has done a lot of meth and she is not very agreeable.  When she first appears on screen, she is a monster, capable of anything.  But the fascinating thing is that her character has the real arc of the story and she ends up in a very different place from where she begins.  Much of this is because Broker and his daughter go out of their way to end the feud and be kind.  Initially this shocks her, but watching her character grow is a great treat in what could have been a stock character there only to forward the plot.

James Franco is great as Gator Bodine.  Gator is a lot smarter than people give him credit for and he excels at manipulating others to do what he wants so that he can stay behind the scenes and not put himself at risk.  Could Gator possibly challenge Broker physically?  Of course not.  But he wouldn’t try to go toe to toe with Broker.  He finds better ways to hurt him.  Although he doesn’t realize until it is too late that he is in way over his head.  Franco is clearly having fun with this role and it was a joy to watch.

Winona Ryder is good as a meth whore who is manipulated by all of the men around her.  When she finally makes a decision on her own, it is a horrible one and Franco hilariously calls her out on it in one of the picture’s funniest moments.

Frank Grillo also makes for a great villain as a biker named Cyrus.  He is a very compelling performer and I only wish there was more of him.

The same is true for Clancy Brown as the Sheriff.  You can’t take your eyes off of Clancy when he’s in a movie, but he isn’t given a lot to do here.

Although there is a lot of wonderful character work, the main plot of Homefront is pretty run of the mill.  If you dig Jason Statham or action flicks in general, it’s worth seeing.  It’s a fun couple of hours at the movies, but the only thing that will really stick with you is Kate Bosworth’s amazing performance as a meth head Mom.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Brian McQuery

Brian is a writer/director from Chicago who has made 9 short films and is developing his first feature. He has hosted Q&A events at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles for films including GoodFellas and Aliens. He works as an Assistant Director on independent films. He misses Chicago style deep dish pizza, but otherwise loves living in Los Angeles. http://www.brianmcquery.com/ Web site: www.brianmcquery.com info@brianmcquery.com

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