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Plenty of action on the one-dimensional 'Homefront'

Open Road

By Conrad Foreman, Daily Arts Writer
Published December 3, 2013

Around this time of year, the onslaught of holiday cheer overwhelms a lot of us — and no, that doesn’t make those people Grinches. The point is: We could use a little something to juxtapose the kumbaya, let’s all get along, everything’s merry feeling of the season.

Enter: “Homefront.” The film stars Jason Statham (“Parker”), and if that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about why this is a good change of pace from holiday joy, you must not know his work.

Phil Broker (Statham) is a former DEA agent, who, as a wildly entertaining opening sequence depicts, has made some enemies in his day. Looking to settle down, Broker moves to a small town in Louisiana with his daughter (Izabela Vidovic, “Because These Kids Are…”). Broker tries to keep his head down and mind his own business, but an altercation between his daughter and a boy at school entangles him with two meth-heads (Kate Bosworth, “Superman Returns” and James Franco, “127 Hours”) with a talent for disruption, ignorant of the magnitude of their actions.

Penned by Sylvester Stallone (“Rocky”), the story, an adaptation of Chuck Logan’s novel of the same name, provides all the required ingredients for a successful action movie: a former tough-guy trying to turn over a new leaf, a smooth-talking villain with just the right mix of charm and detestability, a slew of thugs looking to exact revenge on said hero and, of course, plenty of butt-kicking.

Confrontations between Statham and Franco’s cronies include a large batch of hand-to-hand combat sequences that leave the bad guys licking their wounds and Statham basking in his own bad-assness.

Luckily, for a film that relies heavily on action to carry the load, “Homefront” finds its strength in director Gary Fleder (“Runaway Jury”). Fleder uses the camera to conjure intensity and calm when appropriate; his crane shots in the opening scene and precise direction of the fighting throughout the film highlight his impressive work.

Predictably, however, the characters are about as deep as sandbars. One-dimensionality haunts the film, which only contains cursory exploration of characters’ more complex motivations and struggles.

Of the adults, performances are mostly bleh, with Bosworth providing the most emotionally striking material. The real acting chops belong to the young Vidovic. She taps into a wide range of emotions and is by far the most endearing part of the film.

“Homefront” is far from a perfect film. Hell, it’s far from a great film. But, it provides a cool story centered around a rugged veteran of the genre like Statham doing what he does best: kicking ass. In this way, the film is a complete success.