Every year, Toronto begins to take on certain themes by the festival's midpoint, and this year there were some strong, serious dramas involving characters who go it alone in life, and much of the time to their own detriment.
If a movie requires no thinking whatsoever, it should at least entertain. "Homefront" barely even registers on a level of simple amusement. Goldfish in too-small-fish-tanks are more pleasing to me than this straight-to-video-feeling derivative piece of bayou nonsense that's high on meth and low on juice.
Jason Statham (The Bank Job, Parker) returns in another one of those familiar roles where he sports a working class persona, except instead of going to his regular job with lunch pail in tow like you or me, he's an undercover DEA agent who takes down drug dealing biker gangs. Our dream movie job.
Statham is Phil Broker, and if you were to guess that no one ever calls him Phil in this movie, you would be correct. The opening set-up you've seen a million times, with Broker and the good guys nabbing the baddies, but not before the son of the kingpin dies in the raid, leaving the old man cursing a variation of "I'm gonna get you someday/how/way/where if it's the last thing I do!".
Off to smalltown Louisiana Broker and 9 yr-old daughter Maddy (Izabela Vidovic) relocate to in order to lay low and stay out of trouble, which of course is impossible when you're in a movie that's cruisin' for a bruisin' underneath the thinly-veiled and disingenuous message of "violence is bad, wink wink".
When Broker's daughter beats up a schoolyard bully for not returning her baseball cap, it unleashes a ridiculous chain of events where every dangerous local goober comes out of the woodwork--or the meth lab--to exact retribution on Broker.
Playing the bully's mom is an emaciated Kate Bosworth, meth-addicted to her brother Gator's supply. He's played by James Franco (Pineapple Express, 127 Hours) in a role that doesn't make us believe for a second that he could be a threat to Broker, which is probably why the screenplay (written years ago by Sylvester Stallone and which sat on a shelf for very good reasons) piles on more bad guys to challenge Broker's might, while testing our patience.
There are a number of punchy-kicky fights, none of them memorable. Wynona Ryder makes an appearance as Gator's messed-up sort-of girlfriend while Clancy Brown (the prison guard in Shawshank) plays a local cop made to warn Broker at every turn not to act out. Both actors are wasted here.
"Homefront" has all the life of a January movie that gets dumped in theaters, makes a quick buck, and goes directly to VOD. That it's gotten a release in the thick of Oscar season is peculiar. Statham junkies should have a decent time with this, but this picture isn't going to win him any new fans.