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With: Jason Statham, James Franco, Winona Ryder, Rachelle Lefevre, Kate Bosworth, Clancy Brown, Izabela Vidovic
Written by: Sylvester Stallone, based on a novel by Chuck Logan
Directed by: Gary Fleder
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, pervasive language, drug content and brief sexuality
Running Time: 100
Date: 11/27/2013

Homefront (2013)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Junk Feud

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

With a screenplay by Sylvester Stallone -- who once received an Oscar nomination for writing a certain screenplay -- Homefront had the potential to be a solid, unpretentious, backwoods "B" movie entertainment.

The cast certainly doesn't hurt. Jason Statham is at his scowling, rapid-fire, buzzsaw-voiced best as the hero. James Franco is in full lunatic mode, funny and menacing as the villain. And Winona Ryder is truly surprising as Franco's trashy partner in crime. In smaller roles, Kate Bosworth and Rachelle Lefevre are also memorable.

It starts with a very satisfying school playground tussle. Ex-interpol agent and widower Phil Broker (Jason Statham) moves with his young daughter to a small Louisiana town to disappear and start over. Taught by her father to defend herself, the girl beats up the school bully, and inadvertently starts a feud. The bully's mother (Kate Bosworth) calls in her brother, Gator (James Franco), a local meth dealer.

Gator learns of Broker's past and attempts to sell him up the river in exchange for a larger territory. He also enlists his girlfriend, Sheryl (Winona Ryder), to call in the help of a dangerous thug. Broker tries to stay out of trouble, but when things escalate to a group of hired killers showing up at his doorstep, he must rely on all his old skills to survive and protect his daughter.

Despite some ridiculous twists and turns, the movie could have worked with a lightfooted, confident, breezy touch. Unfortunately somebody hired director Gary Fleder (Kiss the Girls, Runaway Jury, etc.), and he completely missed the point.

His handing of Statham's razor-precise choreographed fights is are clumsy and inept, with rapid cutting destroying the clarity of the brawls. (You can't tell who is who.) Worse, he handles the the movie's ridiculous coincidences and plot devices with a grim attitude -- an indifference toward a child in peril, for example -- thereby drowning out the movie's potential fun.

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