This is a film that was sitting on a few shelves for quite some time. It was first a novel by Chuck Logan back in 2006. Sylvester Stallone liked the idea and put together a screenplay. It was intended as a vehicle for him, but that’s where the whole sitting on a shelf thing comes into play. The movie never really got off the ground, and before long Sly was a little too long in the tooth to do the role. It’s not like he was a spring chicken when he wrote the thing, which could account for, you know, that sitting on a shelf business. The screenplay has finally gotten off the shelf and into our movie screens. After careful consideration, I’m looking for that shelf again.
The movie isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. It begins as Agent Phil Broker (Statham) is infiltrating the Sons Of Anarchy…The Outcasts motorcycle club. It appears that cooking meth is more profitable than cruising on the highway. So much for the whole Born To Be Wild ideal. The takedown goes a little bad, and the son of the club’s leader Danny T (Zito) gets killed. Danny T vows the typical revenge as he’s being carted away.
Two years later and all is as it should be. Danny T is serving his time, and Broker has just settled into a small Louisiana town with his elementary school daughter Maddy (Vidovic). We get a pretty cool introduction to Maddy as she takes out a bully who took her hat. In her defense, she did ask him to give it back twice. Broker ends up having a showdown with the kid’s parents that is a bit of an embarrassment for the bully’s father, Jimmy (Hester). We find out the kid gets his great manners from Mom Cassie (Bosworth) who pulls the old “are you going to let him do that to you” routine. She’s not about to let it die, and so she goes to her brother Gator (Franco) who is trying to be the next meth king in the state. The incident dominoes until Gator discovers who Broker is and decides he can get that state-wide distribution deal from the
Sons Of Anarchy… Outcasts by giving up Broker’s location to Danny T and his free gang members. The film escalates into Broker protecting himself from a typical Hollywood home invasion squad.
The good news here is the cast, to be sure. The movie is populated with all sorts of great characters and good performances to support them. Unfortunately, the story gets in the way of this ever turning into a great, or even good, film. Franco is getting pretty good at playing the psycho characters, and he’s come a long way from playing young Harry Osborn in the Spider-Man films. He’s become a bit of an off-the-wall character even when playing himself in This Is The End. Gator tries to reveal a little conscience along the way but just can’t get out of his own way. It could have made for a wonderfully nuanced character if director Gary Fleder had just gotten out of the way. At every turn Fleder can’t let good acting get in the way of an old stereotype or an overused cliché.
The real surprise here is very young actress Izabela Vidovic. You fall in love with her almost immediately, and she holds her own the entire run of the movie. Up until now this bright talent has been seen mostly on television. While Homefront isn’t likely to garner the kind of box office or attention it was hoping for, I do believe a lot of casting people will notice Izabela, and she’s going to get better chances than this to shine in the future.
I don’t know what Stallone had in mind for the project originally. What it became in the hands of Gary Fleder is a river of missed opportunities that result in a mediocre film that had the talent to be so much more. With some powerhouse holiday films coming soon, Homefront looks more like a direct-to-video release. Don’t fret, that’s where it’s headed sooner rather than later. Stallone has proven himself as an actor, writer and director. Why he wasn’t involved in some capacity surprises me. You might have a Stallone script, but take away the man himself and “everything changes”.