“Homefront” stars Jason Statham as an undercover DEA agent named Phil Broker, who as the film begins has infiltrated a methamphetamine drug operation run by a group of unusually well-coiffed, very fit bikers who, comically, call themselves The Outcasts. The gang is run by seemingly psychotic father and son team played Danny T (“Sons of Anarchy’s” Chuck Zito) and Jojo (Linds Edwards). When the drug bust goes down, Danny T is apprehended, but in the process Jojo’s shot and killed in front of his father, who immediately blames undercover cop Broker and vows to avenge his son’s death.
Two years later, we find now-former DEA agent Broker making a new life for himself in a tiny Louisiana town, where he’s moved with his 9-year-old daughter, Maddy (Izabela Vidovic), to escape the wrath of Danny T. Maddy’s a tough little girl, so tough that when the school bully decides to pick on her, she promptly knocks his block off. This innocent act of self-defense sets off a somewhat ridiculous chain of events that requires some serious suspension of disbelief to follow.
The bully’s mother, a properly tweaked-out and violent woman named Cassie (Kate Bosworth), will not stand idly by as her precious little bully is beaten and embarrassed by the new girl in town. She demands justice — and her kind of justice is avenging her son by going after Maddy’s daddy. Cassie goes to her meth-cooking brother, “Gator” Bodine, played by James Franco, and asks him to put a scare into Broker.
Gator, the feared town agitator, makes a decision that pretty much puts everybody’s life in danger but certainly sets the stage for us to see Statham do what he does best — quietly kick some ass.
“Homefront” has its suspenseful moments but occasionally feels like it was written by a violent 12-year-old. The thing is, it was written by Sylvester Stallone, who let’s not forget won a best screenplay Oscar nod in 1976 for “Rocky.” Violence aside, we’re expected to develop an emotional connection to Broker and Maddy as we learn he’s a widower and Maddy misses her mommy. It’s partially effective, because young Vidovic proves to be one of the best actors in this movie. It’s otherwise ineffective because the rest of the movie, and the connections between its characters, is just silly.
Undoubtedly, if you love mindless, formulaic action films and Statham, then there’s plenty for you to enjoy in “Homefront.” But a little more substance and intelligence probably would’ve given it the edgier feel it needs to be a better and more believable movie.
Two-and-a-half out of five stars.