Homefront

I am admittedly a sucker for Jason Statham action movies. The actor – perhaps best known for his role in “The Transporter” series – has starred in a number of B-movie action films. He looks believably dangerous in hand-to-hand fight scenes and is a solid actor for this type of movies. He’s not going to win an Oscar any time soon, but he’s better than most of the action movie stars going.

Statham’s latest film “Homefront,” topped all reasonable expectations. Statham starred as Phil Broker, a recently retired drug enforcement agent who has moved with his young daughter to the Bayou in Louisiana. However, his daughter gets in a fight at school with a boy – and the boys’ parents happen to be meth-heads and from a dangerous clan of backward kinsfolk in this hillbilly countryside. Events quickly spiral out of control with the boys’ dangerous family making threats at Phil, not knowing Phil’s law enforcement background.

Statham, of course, is the star, but this movie gives experienced, well-known actors James Franco (“127 Hours”), Kate Bosworth (“Blue Crush”) and Winona Ryder (“Edward Scissorhands”) a chance to jump into meaty roles as southern hillbilly meth junkies. Franco’s character, “Gator,” isn’t the wild, over-the-top role he had in last year’s “Spring Breakers;” this meth head is dangerous and sinister.

This is a slow-burning drama, as the tension ramps up toward the end of the film. It is not a non-stop action film – which might have turned some people off — but I found the set-up to be more plausible than most low-end action movies.

Of course, not everything works well. It is well-implied that the sheriff in town is turning a blind eye to the meth-makers in town, but his role is never fully developed. He interacts with Phil Broker a couple times, but he never really comes down on the side of the villains or with Phil, so I wonder why his character is even introduced at all. Sylvester Stallone wrote and produced the film; he has worked with Statham before on “The Expendables” action movies.

Not surprisingly, critics were disinterested, giving it a mere 42 percent approval rating at movie-tracking website Rottentomatoes.com. Average viewers gave it a solid 62 percent approval rating.

Shot on a $22 million budget and receiving a minimal advertising push, “Homefront” earned a solid $43 million worldwide when it hit theaters in November. It is now available for rental.

This movie has some violent scenes, and is not recommended for children. But, it is a decent thriller and it’s well worth a rental on a lazy, rainy Saturday afternoon.