In recent years, there have been quite a few attempts at bringing the magic of 80s and 90s action movies back to the big screen, most notably by the big names who owe their success to the era. So it’s surprising to find that Gary Fleder’s crime thriller Homefront might be the best effort out of the lot. Perhaps it’s due in part to the strength of Chuck Logan’s novel, which was adapted by Sylvester Stallone and moved from the frozen falls of Minnesota to the bayou of Louisiana. And while frontman Jason Statham turns in one of the best performances of his career, the entire film is buoyed by an excellent supporting cast that turns in surprisingly reserved performances, including James Franco, Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth, and newcomer Izabela Vidovic. Sadly, the Blu-ray is rather bare when it comes to extras, but the feature itself is worth another look.
Hit the jump for my Homefront Blu-ray review/
Homefront’s strongest 80s/90s action-movie feel comes right out of the gates as Statham’s character Phil Broker – an undercover DEA agent – infiltrates a meth-dealing motorcycle gang. Shit inevitably hits the fan and the scene erupts into a hail of blood, bullets and big ol’ explosions, complete with overacting by the B cast. While this wasn’t the most promising of starts, things really settle down after the initial action sequence and Fleder takes his time developing the story.
It’s a couple of years later, and Broker has moved to a backwater Louisiana town along with his daughter. When she gets into a scuffle at school with the son of a meth-addicted mother, the schoolyard altercation turns into an all-out family feud. Simple, right? That’s one of the strengths of Homefront: it doesn’t try to do too much. The plot reaches a little bit here and there, but it never feels outlandish, which keeps the tension up, and the stakes believable.
Another welcome surprise was the quality of the performances. Franco’s druglord, Gator, could have been cause for him to chew up the scenery. Instead, he plays the character like a big fish in a small pond who knows he’s smarter than all the other minnows, and capitalizes on his one chance to make a power play. Bosworth, who’s near unrecognizable as a meth addict, has a nice arc that takes her from hateful to redemptive. Whether it’s a testament to the casting director or just the actors in general, everyone hit their marks without trying to do too much. Clancy Brown, Marcus Hester, and Omar Benson Miller have nice turns that don’t necessarily go where you expect them to, and fans of Frank Grillo should enjoy his screentime in this one.
Homefront is a good action flick that’s got plenty of nods to nostalgia while also delivering a compelling story. It’s well-balanced, with Statham owning his fight scenes as usual, but with the drama being allowed to play out for its major role in the film. Don’t let the box office performance (or even the negatively skewing reviews) sway you. If you liked films like Lethal Weapon, Commando, or any film Statham’s in where he actually gives a damn, check out Homefront. Unfortunately, the Blu-ray extras are lacking, so this one’s a rental.
Deleted Scenes (~10 minutes) – Alternate takes (some with unfinished effects work) of certain scenes, plus an alternate ending. These scenes were deleted for good reason.
Standoff (~3 minutes) - Behind-the-scenes featurette with commentary Statham, Stallone, Fleder, and Franco.