Homefront - Blu-ray Review

'Does Statham on a horse work? Neigh.'

If you've seen the promotional guff for Homefront then the odds are that you're still pretty unfamiliar with the above still from the film; Jason Statham atop noble steed, cantering around with his on-screen daughter (Izabela Vidovic). It's one of several moments in Gary Fleder's film where the director attempts to paint Statham as the model of domesticity, perfectly in tune with his young daughter's requirements and interests, as he attempts to forge a new life for her in a quiet town and then, later, protect this established home front. Does Statham on a horse work? Neigh.

Muttering one-liners and beating people up is fine for Statham (more than fine in fact, he's made some very watchable films doing just that) but when it comes to the amount of family-centred acting required in this he starts to get into difficulties. It's arguably not his fault (there's a definite case for miss-casting here) but when Fleder goes as far as to give him a cute little kitten to protect, you really start to wonder if the plan is to later have him turn to camera and say, 'I'm on a horse'. Everyone falls about laughing. Great joke.

It's not a joke though and Statham is left to stumble through a Sylvester Stallone script consistently offering him lines and situations that he is just always going to struggle with. Even the more manly-protector family stuff (during a particularly wooden conversation he tells teacher Rachelle Lefevre that 'I taught my girl to defend herself') starts to ring less and less true and Statham has to try harder and harder with poorer returns which see him move further and further away from the American accent he started with.

With Statham fairly adventurously cast in a lead which is more Dad than it is hard-case, you'd forgive Fleder for visiting central casting for his supporting collection. Instead he opts for James Franco as a bad-to-the-bone meth dealer, Winona Ryder as his dubiously aligned beau and Kate Bosworth as a local junkie mother who also happens to be Franco's on-screen sister. There's an argument here that Homefront is actually the most miss cast film of recent years because that's a lot of Hollywood glamour to sell as small town desperation. Of that selection Franco proves watchable but unconvincing, Ryder goes off at the hysterical deep end and never comes down and Bosworth shows range with a convincing turn that occasionally successfully establishes junkie physicality. None of it works particularly well together, though there is some interest to be had from watching it all crash head on. The script was never good enough to support this level of experimental casting but even if it had have been, you've got to do something pretty extraordinary to sell four things audiences aren't used to over the course of just one hundred minutes and then make those four things gel together convincingly.

Instead of the brave departure Fleder was perhaps hoping for the director ends up with a muddle of an Action film, that never feels satisfying and which is more undermined by its experiments than it is lifted by them. There's joy to be had from seeing Statham plough through people in a simple narrative designed to enable him to crack heads. There's little joy to be gained from watching him ride a horse.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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