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Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013 12:01 am

Homefront runs on autopilot


It’s never good when your mind starts wandering while watching a movie. To be sure, it is the rare film that keeps you in rapt attention from start to finish, but when you begin thinking about how much money each of the actors got in order to throw good judgment out the door or what they must have seen in a script that didn’t translate to screen, you know you’re in trouble.

That’s exactly where my mind went halfway through Homefront, a standard revenge flick that goes through the motions like a one-trick pony. Based on the novel by Chuck Logan, the screenplay by Sylvester Stallone is the sort of thing the actor would have starred in during his youth. Thankfully, he decided not to do so at this late point in his career and talked his Expendables co-star Jason Statham to take the lead in this one. When friends start doing you favors like this, it might be time to get some new friends. The action star is Phil Broker, an ex federal agent who goes into early retirement after a drug bust goes badly. As if that wasn’t a heavy enough burden to bear, his wife dies soon after, leaving him to raise their daughter Maddy (Izabela Vidovic) on his own. In an effort to find a bit of peace, he relocates to Rayville, La. which should be renamed Bullytown, USA as it seems they make up the majority of the populace.

That old saying of “If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all,” certainly applies to Broker because he crosses paths with Gator Bodine (James Franco), a local meth dealer who has designs on breaking into the big time. Much like Pavlov’s pooch, the ex-operative can’t help but try to bring down his new enemy, especially when his daughter ends up in harm’s way. Once Broker goes on autopilot in taking out the bad guys, the film lapses into a similar mode of operation. Statham delivers the requisite number of kicks to the face and twisted wrists as each of Bodine’s lackeys go down one by one.

If Homefront proves anything, it’s that Statham is still slumming (his quiet scenes with young Vidovic are the film’s best), Franco’s willingness to stretch himself has its limits (the performer does fine but this is hardly a challenging role. Did he decide he needed a paid vacation to Louisiana?) and Winona Ryder is still around and looks great at 42 (she rocks the white trash mod look here … ). My mind turned to making a Christmas list while watching this film. So in the long run, I guess it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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