(US - 2013)
Directed by Gary Fleder. Written by Sylvester Stallone. Cast: Jason Statham, James Franco, Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth, Izabela Vidovic, Frank Grillo, Clancy Brown, Rachelle Lefevre, Omar Benson Miller, Chuck Zito, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Marcus Hester, Lance E. Nichols. (R, 100 mins)
Based on a 2006 novel by Chuck Logan, HOMEFRONT was scripted by Sylvester Stallone, who intended to star before deciding he was too old for the lead and handed the project over to his fellow Expendable Jason Statham. Stallone's script takes some liberties with Logan's novel, one of a series of thrillers featuring former Minnesota cop Phil Broker. In the book, Broker, his wife, and daughter move to rural Minnesota as Broker tangles with local meth cookers. In the movie, Broker (Statham) is a widower who moves with his ten-year-old daughter Maddy (Izabela Vidovic) to rural Louisiana two years after leading an undercover bust that resulted in the death of the son of biker kingpin Danny T (Chuck Zito). When Maddy decks a bully at recess, it sets off a chain reaction of violence and revenge. The bully's mother is white-trash tweaker Cassie Klum (Kate Bosworth), who goads her spineless husband Jimmy (Marcus Hester) into a fight with Broker, who easily kicks Jimmy's ass. Broker approaches Jimmy at his job and apologizes and the two men agree to let it go, but Cassie isn't satisfied and approaches her older brother and local meth lord Gator Bodine (James Franco). When Broker easily handles a pair of Gator's stooges, Gator pops into the Broker home and snoops around, stealing Maddy's cat, a stuffed animal, and some Danny T files in Broker's basement. Needing a powerful organization like Danny T's MC to help his meth distribution network, Gator enlists the aid of biker groupie and meth whore Sheryl (Winona Ryder) to bring in the incarcerated Danny T's crew, headed by the psychotic Cyrus (Frank Grillo), to take care of Broker and set up a sweet deal for himself in the process. Obviously, things don't go according to plan for Gator or the bikers.
LETTER triumph from last year. A frighteningly thin Bosworth doesn't have a lot to do after the initial plot set-up, but she really nails the bad-tempered, chip-on-her-shoulder, pissed-off-about-everything nature of her character. Director Gary Fleder (THINGS TO DO IN DENVER WHEN YOU'RE DEAD, KISS THE GIRLS, DON'T SAY A WORD, RUNAWAY JURY) isn't really an "action" guy but he's in journeyman mode here, and gets the job done for the most part, except for a couple of unfortunate instances of shaky-cam and one dubious CGI car roll courtesy of executive producer Avi Lerner's usual Bulgarian clown crew at Worldwide FX.