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article imageReview: ‘Homefront’ breaks down the door to the ‘80s Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Nov 26, 2013 in Entertainment
In ‘Homefront,’ a former DEA agent moves his family to a quiet town, where he comes up against a local drug lord that threatens his tranquility.
Family is important to movie tough guys. Time and again audiences watch them walk through the fires of Hell to protect or save their loved ones. No obstacle is too big, no hurt too severe – and no bad guy is safe. In Homefront, a man must guard his daughter against perpetrators seeking vengeance and criminal career advancement.
After years of being an undercover cop and long absences from his family, Phil Broker (Jason Statham) has dedicated himself to being a full-time father to his daughter, Maddy (Izabela Vidovic). A new start in a quiet town is just what they need. But a minor altercation at Maddy's school escalates into a feud with a local hot shot named Gator (James Franco). A few reluctant apologies smooth things over until Gator sees an opportunity to expand his territory for meth distribution by feeding Broker's whereabouts to some of his former associates.
Originally written and pitched by Sylvester Stallone as the final chapter to the Rambo series, this film definitely contains his signature fondness for solving problems with his fists. However it works much better in this context, focusing on the efforts of a trained wild card rather than a recognized short fuse. Broker shares some of the same qualities as John Rambo and other '80s hero dads – namely no mercy for anyone messing with him or his family – but Statham gives the role his personal touch.
In the end, it's the exceptional cast that raises the film above a mediocre shoot 'em up. Franco is a terrifying villain. He gets this look in his eye that conveys Gator's dangerous reputation in a single glance and any attempt at civil conversation reeks of distrust. Statham makes the switch from concerned father to certified human weapon in an instant. His reflexes are razor sharp, giving his opponents little chance to inflict their thuggery. Statham is also afforded the opportunity to display his sensitive side in scenes with Maddy, in which a tender smile tells her all she needs.
The women of the picture, Kate Bosworth and Winona Ryder, are fierce. Bosworth plays Gator’s meth addict sister, Cassie. In between tweaking, she berates her husband, supports her son and tries to uphold her family’s reputation through intimidation. Ryder is a thin, worn-out felony groupie that has moved from biker junkie to Gator’s girlfriend.
While it doesn’t add anything to the aforementioned action subgenre, Statham’s physicality and Stallone’s old school plot maintain the standard and audience interest.
Director: Gary Fleder
Starring: Jason Statham, James Franco and Winona Ryder
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