Blu-ray Review: Even Villainous James Franco Can’t Save Dull ‘Homefront’

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CHICAGO – Jason Statham has become an amorphous blob in the action genre, but an amorphous blob who is his own archetype, nonetheless. With the “Expendables” movies he began to take the genre torch from Sylvester Stallone, and now working from a script by Stallone in “Homefront”, his Americanization is nearly certified. That being said, watching Jason Statham tattoo a bald eagle on himself might be more enjoyable than his latest addition to a bloated filmography, “Homefront”. That, or staging a debate with Stallone and Statham about gun control. DVD rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

Screenwriter Stallone adapted a novel by Chuck Logan with intent on assembling an old fashioned tale of home security, with any and all genre connections welcome. In its final form, a film that could’ve had some grip as a small town thriller loses its tension before such seems like a possibility. On a more basic level, “Homefront” doesn’t have much muscle as a vehicle for Statham’s action abilities. Gary Fleder’s direction, more dedicated to B-roll of the open road than assembling a slick fight scene, takes the oomph out of its bursts of physical confrontation.

Why is James Franco in this thing? To say “just another art experiment” is snarky, but it’s also probably true. Playing a violent creature opposite Statham is certainly a new outfit for the multi-hyphenate, but even as a non-strongarm Franco’s take on villainy is cut short. One can see and accept that the point of his character is not to challenge the physical ability of Statham, but to create unease like Giovanni Ribisi’s evil rat versus Mark Wahlberg in “Contraband”. In this level, Franco & Statham don’t have any tension, which leaves “Homefront” slacking even as a potentially obscure Statham venture.

If you’re looking for a strong story about small-town justice, look to “Homefront’s” stronger 2013 twin, “Out of the Furnace”. Starring Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, and Casey Affleck, this tale also about a community corrupted by meth hit DVD store shelves the same day as “Homefront”, and with a greater sense of pride. Harrelson’s grisly performance will certainly satisfy the deft amounts Francophiles will be left hanging by “Homefront”.

Nonetheless, the lack of enthusiasm inherent in “Homefront’s” story is matched by its special features collection, which dishes about eight minutes of deleted scenes and then a two-minute teaser. Titled “Standoff”, the special feature is only the battle of involved parties trying to keep up illusion of interest in making the film. Fleder, Franco, Stallone, and Statham share their brief takes on the story. It is the type of fluff that should only play in movie theater lobbies before people considering buying tickets. There is no sense in bringing home that special feature, or the equally dull action movie that comes with it.

Homefront was released on Blu-ray on March 11, 2014
"Homefront was released on Blu-ray on March 11, 2014
Photo credit: Courtesy of Universal

“Homefront” is a modern western, set in a wild town corrupted by pop culture’s current favorite jam, meth. Its cowboy is the strangely-named Phil Broker, as played by Jason Statham, in one his more amorphous action roles. He’s a former DEA agent who tries to leave behind his previous career, but unintentionally gets into trouble when his daughter hits the son of an addicted local (played by Kate Bosworth). Creating a cycle of violence, she then sends her brother Gator (James Franco) to Broker’s house for some podunk payback.

Special Features:
o Standoff
o Deleted Scenes
o Digital HD Ultraviolet copy
o DVD copy

“Homefront” was released on Blu-ray on March 11, 2014.

By Nick Allen
Staff Writer

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