Homefront

Gary Fleder’s Homefront is a medium-budget action film adaptation of Chuck Logan’s novel of the same name.  It is an action movie about a DEA officer who retires to rural Louisiana to find some peace, but crosses the wrong family.

This is precisely the sort of film that will drive critics to drink but please its target audience.  Jason Statham manages an American accent almost perfectly to play a federal officer, and it is a real pleasure to see him back on the side of white hats.  Statham and his opposite James Franco are both strong actors who can play heroes and villains with equal ease, so it was a treat to see them switch things up against one another.

There is little need to say that the action was solid, and Statham’s fight choreography has some subtle twists of brilliance here and there without stepping up to his full ability to show off.  This is not a John Woo film, and makes to pretensions to blockbuster status.  Sylvester Stallone’s screenplay delivers the sort of solid, homey action film that we will recognize from the late seventies and the eighties.

Statham’s character Phil Broker would make or break the film, and he delivers a little more nuanced performance than most of his appearances on film.  Broker is a strong man who cares enough about peace to try and swallow his pride instead of escalating problems, and I can’t remember the last time I saw an action hero offer an apology when he didn’t have to.

That was only one of the choice nuggets I enjoyed.  There was an actual pledge of allegiance over the grade school black board.  (The grade school has a black board.)  The school counselor turned out not to be a fink, and accepted that sometimes the appropriate response to an attack by bullies is to dump them on their butts.  The horses were beautiful, probably more expensive than all but two cars in the film.  Some of the dialogue was delightfully laconic in a uniquely Southern way.

The film is not perfect, even within the scope of its attempted tale.  Archetypal analysis of story looks at something called a Shadow, the idea that the principle antagonist will reflect the true nature of the hero or the parts of the hero’s potential being that he himself has rejected.  Jame’s Franco’s Morgan ‘Gator’ Bodine is a dangerous, potentially violent bad guy who represents what Broker had the potential to be.  The film has a pair of antagonists, one violent and one devious to balance out Brokers broad strengths,  but neither of them quite measures up.  Ideally for a great ending sequence however many antagonists there might be have to feel like at least an equal if not far greater threat than our hero’s abilities.  That is the one flaw in an otherwise perfectly watchable action flick.

Recommended.

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