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In Stunning Box Office Triumph, ‘Homefront’ Turns Jason Statham, Winona Ryder, and James Franco Into Unflavored Oatmeal

In Stunning Box Office Triumph, 'Homefront' Turns Jason Statham, Winona Ryder, and James Franco Into Unflavored Oatmeal

Here are your key ingredients for an action movie:

  • 1 Burned-out Supercop
  • 1 Corrupt Southern sheriff
  • 2 Meth-cooking villains
  • 1 Seemingly idyllic small town with a dark side
  • 2 Meth-head women
  • 1 Out-of-control biker gang
  • All the car chases you can find

The important thing about this recipe is not the ingredients, it’s what you do with them: how you stir them together, when you bring things to a boil. If you spend too much time stirring in the Supercop or over-season with too much Meth, and your sumptuous action movie stew will end up tasting like action movie poop.

Which brings us to Homefront. Jason Statham plays the Burned Out DEA Supercop with a never-explained Mockney accent. After a weak sauce Car Chase and a Drug Bust Gone Wrong, Statham moves to small town Louisiana with his daughter. There he quickly runs afoul of Kate Bosworth, who turns in the movie’s only good performance as a white trash meth-head. Bosworth calls on her brother James Franco, the local meth cooker, to get some payback from Statham. With practically a written invitation to chew scenery as a southern-fried badass, Franco turns in a restrained performance for the first time in his life. All hell breaks loose anyway, and Winona Ryder shows up for no good reason as the way-too-coincidental connection to the biker gang from the Drug Bust Gone Wrong.

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Asses get kicked. Things blow up. There’s a second car chase that is longer, but not necessarily better, than the first one. And a romantic subplot with gorgeous Rachelle Lefevre is basically forgotten before it ever develops.

Homefront director Gary Fleder generally does television, and it shows. Most of the movie is in too-tight closeup, with unnecessary zooms and shaky-cam effects to heighten the action. Scenes with Statham and his daughter are bathed in a golden glow like a shampoo commercial, while scenes with Franco are colored icky blue, in case we didn’t realize he was the bad guy. And not to belabor the point, but Fleder really needs to watch car chase classics like Bullitt and The Seven-Ups before he makes another movie.

Now that is a car chase. Ten beautiful minutes of car chase.

Where were we? Homefront. Ingredients: B+.  Execution: D-. Result: a fail souffle.

And two last things to think about – character actor Clancy Brown needs bigger roles than he gets here, and Kate Bosworth needs a hot meal. Next time, feed her a sandwich and feed James Franco more scenery, please.

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