Not to be confused with the American TV show Homeland, the British TV show Homefront or the hardware/garden shop Homebase, this is the Jason Statham movie Homefront. The screenplay is by Sylvester Stallone, who wrote the part for himself but handed it to his Expendabuddy Statham when he decided he was too old, presumably looking in the mirror one morning only to realise he looks like Gene Simmons got hit by a tank and survived.
Like Carnage, the film’s starting point is an altercation between two school kids, which spirals out of control in the hands of the two families. But unlike Carnage, this is a really good film. Statham is at his very best, playing the father to newcomer Izabela Vidovic, their relationship reminiscent of that of Big Daddy and Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass. In fact Vidovic is like a young Chloë Moretz, if you can imagine such a thing. James Franco is great when he’s being this scary, as small-time drug-lord Gator – nothing to do with Samuel L Jackson’s character of the same name in Jungle Fever. Having played Alien in Spring Breakers earlier this year, Franco is carving out a real niche as low-life gangsters with weird names. The rest of the cast are just as good, including Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth and a cat.
But clearly in the background is Stallone, adapting Chuck Logan’s novel with a level of old-school skill that demonstrates his ongoing writing talent. His stripped-down approach makes this a real thrill-ride, showing up The Counselor as the pretentious rubbish it is. It’s incredibly violent, naturally, but the action is driven by the strong plot and characters. We invest in these characters despite their simplicity, and the whole thing moves along nicely. Where Sly’s most recent turns in front of the camera have disappointed, whether in Bullet to the Head or Escape Plan, this completely delivers. Statham takes the blood-stained baton, and makes this a superb Saturday night exploitationer.