9:12 AM EST, November 26, 2013
A bloody bore featuring Jason Statham wasting steaming piles of rednecks in small-town Louisiana, "Homefront" nonetheless contains many teachable moments while setting a very low bar for fathers everywhere. One such moment, for example: If your 10-year-old daughter is watching you, don't murder that optional 10th or 11th bad guy. She doesn't need to see that.
And we don't really need this old thing, which tries to be a modern Western but ends up being a swampy, derivative action film, indebted to B movies of the '70s but unable to pay the debt in an interesting way. Sylvester Stallone wrote the script to "Homefront," adapting Chuck Logan's crime novel. For a time the picture was being shaped as a Rambo film, to star Stallone, bringing his lucrative franchise back to an American setting.
Instead it became a Statham revenge outing, in which the boiling kettle of rage plays a Drug Enforcement Administration cop who infiltrates a nest of drug dealers, survives a bust gone bad and, two years later, relocates to bayou country with his preteen daughter. She is played by Izabela Vidovic, who spends much of the film in tears, screaming in terror and looking for her pet kitty.
James Franco plays the local meth kingpin and all-purpose threat, the one who takes the cat. And the kid's stuffed bunny pillow! If "Homefront" has any distinction, it's Franco's agreeable way with a garden-variety villain, albeit a villain named Gator, taking us back to the days and the vibe of "White Lightning." I was rooting for Franco's character's all the way. For one thing, he doesn't make the audience suffer through cheesy sentimental bits. For another, there's something about Statham's patented hooligan scowl that doesn't suggest "ideal family man," at least in the story scripted by Stallone and directed with a hacky sense of action by Gary Fleder.
The female characters have a little more going on than usual, to Stallone's credit. Kate Bosworth and Winona Ryder play conflicted lost souls, trapped in a dirty town's way of taking care of business. Line to line, Stallone has a particularly numbing penchant for the f-word. But the key f-word in "Homefront" is "familiar."
MPAA rating: R (for strong violence, pervasive language, drug content and brief sexuality)
Running time: 1:40
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