There is something poetic about Jason Statham taking the lead heroic role in a film that was a Sylvester Stallone vehicle for many years in the nineties, before the chance and time passed. In a sense, following their relationship in The Expendables series, this feels like the next step in the passing of the torch, reinforcing Statham’s position as a throwback to the masculine action heroes of the late eighties and early nineties, a role that he has embraced and carries once again within Homefront, a film with an identity crisis that is perhaps endemic of modern action pictures that get lost between the heyday of the 1980s and a drive for social comment in the new realities of the present.

This modern action thriller follows Phil Broker, an ex-DEA agent who, after a job gone terribly wrong, has been placed in the witness protection program, and moved out to the Bayou with his young daughter. However, after a minor schoolyard spat between Broker’s daughter and the son of a local meth addict, Cassie, suddenly Broker’s new life is placed in danger after Cassie’s brother, small time druglord Gator (James Franco) begins a game of intimidation that leads him to Broker’s true identity and attracts the attention of the ghosts from his past.

Statham, in the lead role of Phil Broker, has a tremendous balance between steely confidence and physical venom that makes him endlessly watchable; the best moments of the film come when the threat of violence and intimidation emerges, and the air becomes electric with the anticipation for the moment Statham strikes, the coiled cobra unleashed…and when he’s unleashed, it’s a joy to behold.

Cinematically, the bursts of Statham action are the most assured and affective, rich with kinetic energy that foregrounds the physical ability of Statham as an action spectacle. However, there is a crushing sense of disparity between the narrative and the action spectacle; the film spends more time trying to establish emotional connections that are either clichéd or frustratingly underdeveloped (a potential romance between Broker and his daughter’s teacher, and the repercussions of the Sheriff’s amoral relationship with Gator are the most obvious and irritating examples of this issue) and a sense of moral injustice that foregrounds the film as a cry to the sense of American decency in the face of modern excess.

If the film had decided to embrace the excessive action spirit of the 1980s, and featured more action set pieces, perhaps it would be a more successful picture, rather than the tepid, mild-entertainment on display. Perhaps the most surprising performance of the film comes from Kate Bosworth as the addict sister of the villainous Gator. Bosworth is virtually unrecognizable, physically adopting the emaciated and damaged body of a meth addict, but even more impressively, the combination of subtle ticks in her movement and vocal performance that reveals the struggle within her character that makes her at times absolutely reviling and yet contain a sensitivity that redeems the character. A complete character and performance in a film that is lacking otherwise.

Ultimately, Homefront is a fun ride, but it is just too imbalanced as an action picture, and the overwhelming sense of Americana that sticks in the throat and softens the power of the film’s punch, to the detriment of the overall film.

EXTRAS: Deleted scenes

VERDICT: [rating=2]

About The Author

Matthew Hammond is a full time cinephile, specializing in cult, art house and 1980’s cinema. While film is his overwhelming passion, Matthew has been known to enjoy comic books, Sherlock Holmes stories and a good film related T-shirt. Feel free to email me with any questions or comments: mattpaul61@o2.co.uk