Movie review: Biggest crime of “Homefront”? Wasting James Franco

By Columbus Alive
From the November 28, 2013 edition

On its surface, “Homefront” looks like just another testosterrific action flick for the action flick crowd, but its cast had me intrigued. Bad idea.

I mean, Jason Statham isn’t quite the thinking man’s action hero, but he’s no Steven Seagal (and I mean that in a good way). Winona Ryder has been working on a minor comeback since a role in “Black Swan.” Maybe she saw something in this script?

But it was James Franco that did it for me. I mean, Franco as a meth-trafficking bad guy named Gator Bodine? I’m still giddy about Franco’s wonderful grill-mouthed rapper Alien in Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers.” This had to be more of the same, right?

Well, I got what I was expecting before I was expecting something good.

Phil Broker (Statham) is an undercover DEA agent (with hair!) who double-crosses a drug-dealing biker gang in a bust that leaves a father in prison and a son dead.

Broker moves to a quiet town with his daughter (Izabela Vidovic) to start a new life, but the local meth kingpin (Franco) discovers his secret and plans to profit.

Oh, and did I mention that Sylvester Stallone adapted the screenplay for this from a novel? Because that.

There’s a time and a place for dumb action movies, but “Homefront” is overloaded with clichés and underloaded on the over-the-top-ness that makes some dumb action movies good.

I got stuck on the fact that the secret former DEA agent has boxes upon boxes of paperwork revealing his secret DEA past just sitting out in his basement, and it went downhill from there.

Franco is either underutilized by the director or (more likely) just collecting a paycheck, but this whole movie could have earned another star just by letting him go completely unhinged once.

“Homefront” will scratch a bad action itch, but color me disappointed.

Photo courtesy of Open Road Films