‘Homefront’ (2013) review: Crazy in the making

Above, Jason Statham is shown in a scene from "Homefront." (Photo credit: Open Road Films)

Above, Jason Statham is shown in a scene from “Homefront.” (Photo credit: Open Road Films)

‘Homefront’ exactly what you think it will be

Jason Statham is not known for his restraint. The latest movie in which he stars, “Homefront,” captures that lack of sentiment like an alligator its prey. From a purely chaotic beginning to nonstop butt-kicking to a 10-year-old who knows how to drop the schoolyard bully to his knees (thanks to some “defensive” training from her father), “Homefront” drops any pretense of restraint from the get-go.

Even if Statham’s character, DEA agent Phil Broker, only shoots the crazed, meth-addicted, gun-wielding son of the drug lord in the leg rather than his face. (Because this passes for restraint these days.)

Because, let’s be honest: who wants to see Statham be subtle, gentle, caring? Who wants him to leave the violence and mayhem at the door? Not the type of moviegoer who frequents a film starring him, directed by Gary Fleder, written by Sylvester Stallone and based on a book by Chuck Logan. “Homefront” is a brutal ballet of force and consequence, a balance between punishment and justice. It’s not a work of art, but for the most part, it was serviceable, and it will suffice.

This violent tale begins after a bit of a calm. Agent Broker, having just scored a major drug bust against a meth kingpin, walks away from the life of a covert agent. It’s two years after the opening sequence, and Broker, recently widowed, moves him and his daughter, Maddy (Izabella Vidovic), to a small town in Louisiana. The plan is to get away from the hustle and bustle. Plus, Maddy gets a horse. What could be better?

And like any movie like this, it doesn’t take all that long for that idyllic scenario to be shattered like so many drug addicts’ lives. Or, to be more precise, to be punched right in his fat face.

That refers to Maddy knocking down the schoolyard bully, who was pushing her around. Using her knowledge her special ops-like father taught her, she makes quick work of the large boy. But a school fight can’t be just that in this neck of the woods. Having been humiliated, the boy’s sickly looking mother (a disturbing Kate Bosworth), a meth addict, wants to get revenge. So she enlisted her brother, local drug lord/king crazy Gator Bodine (James Franco). He accepts her request to “scare” those meddlesome newcomers. It’s about family, after all.

But when Bodine discovers that Maddy is the daughter of a former undercover agent — or ex-narc, if you will — through some breaking-and-entering and some hard-to-believe good luck (who keeps records of former drug busts and personal information about being an agent in some boxes in the basement?), he isn’t all too happy.

He does see opportunity, though. Seeking to get a bigger foothold in the state’s meth circuit, Gator invites associates of the drug lord Broker put away two years ago. And then everything goes to hell. Just as expected.

Little will surprise you, but performances will entertain. Franco has himself a time as the heavy, spewing through a Cajan accent with glee and psychosis and just as willing to give his sister her next “fix” as he is smash a baseball bat to the shin of a kid who also happens to making some meth in his distribution area.
Added to this mix is a morally conflicted biker groupie/girlfriend (Winona Ryder), whose greasy-to-the-touch appearance and late-game choices have you just as torn as she is.

The performances, along with a stellar soundtrack that basically oozes a blend of sleaze and energy, will you make you feel you are watching what amounts to a guilty pleasure. In a you-don’t-tell-your-friends kind of way. Just don’t think too much about it, and you’ll find yourself enjoying it as if you were watching it from your front porch. (Because we all known no one wants to be watching if from any of the porches in this movie. Who knew they were such killing fields?

Three excessive stars out of five.

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