Dave White
Homefront Review

Dave's Rating:

3.0

Death becomes him

When cinema finally implodes and dies, Jason Statham will be the last man standing. He will begin fighting the space junk flying all around him, he will hyper-speed-fall through the emptiness like a professional falling person because he's already done it in Crank and then he will harness the void of entertainment-nothingness, knock its teeth out, headbutt it and then hand that void its own ass like a surprise birthday gift. But first he has to go incognito in the bayou.

A former Interpol/DEA guy with an undercover mullet as disguise (an opening credits montage informs us that he took himself out of the law enforcement game after a drug bust gone unexpectedly bad), Statham retreats into almost-anonymity in rural Louisiana with his little daughter and the grieving memory of a dead wife, like a Nicolas Sparks scenario for violent rednecks. Master of deep cover that he is, he makes the odd choice of retaining his working class London accent while dressing the part of a local hick. And nobody asks him about this.

Instead, the young son of some area meth addicts (one of whom is Kate Bosworth, kind of amazing at being extremely skinny and yelling "F#$%" at small children) picks a fight with our hero's daughter, a tween with advanced Statham-training in harming those who would seek to harm her first. When she bests the boy, it begins a town war that escalates into the upper reaches of drug-cooking culture and eventually involves a lot of stuff blowing up, a guy named Gator (of course) played by James Franco (double of course) and the entire, combined social registries of the towns from Walking Tall, Gummo and Macon County Line. Sadly, none of these people seem to understand that they are trying to enter a battle of fists, feet and weaponry with The Transporter. This does not go well for them. Statham old-timey-wrestling-moves the ones who don't respond to casual face-punching and sends the angry, defeated miscreants back to their impoverished drug huts. But you knew that going in.

And that predictability, the inherent knowing of outcomes, normally the hallmark of cinematic boredom, doesn't diminish Homefront's cruddy, bone-shattering charm. Quite the opposite. It's violence chicken soup for the adrenaline-and-cruelty-deprived soul. Statham (an avatar for screenwriter/producer Sylvester Stallone, who adapted the 2005 novel of the same name and probably envisioned this as a vehicle for himself at some point in its development) is the current reigning master of this sort of thing, the fight opera about the man of few words, impeccable stubble and lethal fighting technique. And if its goodness refuses to venture into the realm of originality (it's also the opposite of that), then so be it. Statham's presence and willingness to brawl is a beacon of welcoming light in a holiday season of serious, middlebrow dramas duking it out for award consideration. This one dispenses with that angle -- not that it had any other choice -- and is simply content to duke it out with blood-lust-crazed swamp things. Is there an Oscar category for Best Femur Crush yet?

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