Statham gives impressive performance in ‘Homefront’

November 26, 2013

Justin Lubin

“Homefront” pays homage to old-school action films that tug at heartstrings thanks to characters with actual depth. Directed by Gary Fleder and written by Sylvester Stallone, “Homefront” combines action with an artistic perspective on the human condition.

“Homefront” tells the story of former DEA agent Phil Broker (Jason Statham), a devoted father who decides to escape his troubled past by moving with his daughter Maddy (Izabela Vidovic) to a quiet backwater town. Phil’s quaint lifestyle is suddenly upended when a conflict with his daughter brings him face-to-face with meth kingpin Gator Bodine (James Franco). Phil is forced to take up arms and protect Maddy from his dangerous past.

Astonishingly, the first 10 minutes of the film offset the rest of its running time with an excessive number of explosions and amount of bloodshed. Embodying the unstoppable archetypical hero, Statham delivers a thrilling performance with noir flair. Although this will satisfy thrill-seekers, the stunts are hardly convincing despite Statham’s powerful presence.

Filmed in Louisiana and set in the fictitious town of Rayville, Fleder places emphasis on the scenic views and perpetual darkness the town offers. During the daytime, nature is graceful and all the activities appear calm, but at night the setting maintains an ominous nature. This contrast echoes the balance between Phil’s viciousness and paternal affection.

The film derives much of its potential from the lead cast members, who successfully provide insight into their characters’ lives. Statham does a stunning job depicting the extent to which a father will go to protect his daughter. Although Franco struggles to become a particularly convincing drug dealer, his evil persona is impressively captured from the moment he appears on screen until the dramatic finale. Unfortunately, “Homefront” makes the mistake of introducing several useless characters as well, such as Sheryl (Winona Ryder) and the sheriff (Clancy Brown), both of whom do little for the plot.

Unexpectedly, Stallone accomplishes a great deal with his screenplay. He pays more attention to the depth of his lead characters than the plot, allowing the viewer to relate to the passion conveyed on screen. “Homefront” is not simply an action movie. It’s an honest depiction of the love of a father for his daughter, the trials and tribulations of living in a small town and the madness of drug abuse.

Fleder and Stallone maintain a balance between action and tonal shifts within the film. “Homefront” gives viewers a moving father-daughter relationship, as well as enough explosions to satisfy action junkies. Although it falls short with secondary characters, the sheer intensity of each scene — in both physical and emotional respects —  is enough to keep the viewer captivated.

Mohamed Hassan is a staff writer. Email him at film@nyunews.com.

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