This time of year, almost weekly Hollywood releases another potentially-award-winning movie. Added into that mix are less-marketed films that often fly under the radar, which doesn’t mean they are not good; in fact, some of these films turn out to be Oscar contenders. The recently released “Homefront” doesn’t fall into either of these categories. This film is enjoyable, packed with intense fight scenes, and full of amusing characters, but for certain reasons, has failed to draw an adequate box office audience. Although it has several strong points, the film definitely has its flaws.
Written by Sylvester Stallone, “Homefront” feels like something we’ve seen before: government agent gets his cover blown, goes into hiding, and gets found out. More specifically here, a DEA agent, Phil Broker (Jason Statham), gets tangled up in a high-profile case involving a biker gang in New Orleans, and when the time comes to blow his cover and make the arrest, there is a great deal of resentment among the remaining gang members.
Some time later, a widowed Broker is raising his daughter in a small town nearby. Having taught his ten-year-old how to defend herself, she gets into an altercation at school with the nephew of a local meth druglord, Morgan "Gator" Bodine (James Franco). While investigating Broker, Gator stumbles upon his DEA past and comes up with a plan that will further his meth business and get rid of Broker for good. After passing off the information of Broker’s whereabouts to his druggie, dancer girlfriend who has a past with the biker gang, the bikers comes for retaliation, and Broker must use his fighting skills to keep himself and his daughter alive.
“Homefront” has many elements that set it up to be a great film. It’s got a cast that most people would recognize, with popular actors such as James Franco, Jason Statham, Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth, and more. It features a good deal of action, and while extremely violent, the fighting scenes can be quite entertaining. And it’s written by an experienced actor/screenwriter/director in Stallone. For the most part, it follows a simple story (based on a novel) that, in theory, should work, but for some reason, the finished product is not complete.
I credit the lack of viewership to this film in part because there are frankly too many good quality movies available right now, and the bar has been set extremely high. And for a variety of reasons, some films just don’t do the job well enough or make an impact. “Homefront” is an average or below-average presentation. Films like this are what I like to call the watch-at-home movies – something you can pull up on Netflix when there is nothing else on, or a film that doesn’t require the experience of a theater, but can still be appreciated. Most of the film’s weaknesses can be attributed to the poor execution of the story and multiple acting performances/characters that fall short – but for whatever reason (the directing, acting, filming, etc.) – something is missing. The story feels extremely generic, and parts of the film feel forced or move along too quickly, while certain scenes or plot points are often given too much screen time. While most of the actors seem to fit their roles fairly well, their performances are not always top-notch.
On a positive note, most of the fighting scenes are pretty cool, and the film does a good job at setting up each character, whether it be their history or showing them interacting with someone. These developments later explain certain motivations, relationships, and character expectations. Young actress, Izabela Vidovic does a good job as a take-no-crap daughter of agent Phil Broker, and Jason Statham plays lovable father/ex DEA agent who knows how to defend himself. It’s good to see Winona Ryder in a film, and Kate Bosworth plays a convincing meth tweaker/junkie. Finally, similar to his wacko rapper/drug lord role in “Spring Breakers” earlier this year, James Franco plays a fun-to-watch, somewhat crazy, redneck-meth-drug-lord-entrepreneur looking for a big score. In the end, “Homefront” isn’t a total loss, but far from a win.
Check out “Homefront,” now in theaters, and decide for yourself.
Rated 2.8-out-of-5 stars.
Homefront is rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, drug content and brief sexuality. Running time is 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Hayden Pittman is a special contributor to WFAA.com and a freelance film critic and entertainment blogger out of Dallas. More of his content can be found on YouPlusDallas.com and his author archive here. He is a film, TV, and sports enthusiast, and hopes to pursue a future in filmmaking and screenwriting.
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