Action Adaptation

Backwater Blu-ray Review: Homefront

March 11, 2014Ben MK

  Share on Tumblr  
      Delicious Add to Delicious  

Statham hands out a Louisiana-style beatdown

By Ben Mk

Athough he may not give off that vibe, Jason Statham must be quite the book lover. Because the expendable mechanic/transporter has cranked out not one, but two, book-to-film adaptations within the same year. First, he took on the role of the titular criminal-with-a-conscience, Parker, in the film adaptation of author Donald E. Westlake's novel, Flashfire — and now he's applying his signature, no-nonsense charisma to the role of undercover DEA agent Phil Broker, in the film version of Chuck Logan's Homefront.

In Homefront, Statham's only desire is to keep a low profile in the backwater Southern town of Rayville, Louisiana. His previous assignment infiltrating a gang of bikers and drug traffickers, calling themselves the Outcasts, has landed him at the top of their hit list; and he's hoping to get a fresh start by going unnoticed among the locals. With his young daughter, Maddy (Izabela Vidovic), in tow, he tries to navigate life there and blend in. But (being Jason Statham) that's easier said than done; and even if Broker's not looking for trouble, trouble finds him. When Maddy takes a stand against a schoolyard bully, it draws the ire of the bully's mother (Kate Bosworth) and puts Broker on the radar of Walter White-wannabe Gator Bodine (James Franco), the bully's uncle — who just happens to be the local methamphetamine kingpin. When Gator discovers Broker's true identity, he seizes the opportunity by striking a deal with the Outcasts, offering up the lives of Broker and his daughter in exchange for an opportunity to grow his drug empire. But naturally, Broker isn't going down without a fight, and Gator and the Outcasts soon learn that they picked the wrong man to tangle with.

Adapted for the screen by none other than the Demolition Man himself, Sylvester Stallone — from the sixth and final novel in the Phil Broker series — director Gary Fleder's film is in many ways a throwback to classic action movies, evoking the tried-and-true action tropes of the loner hero who's new in town and just trying to protect his family. Its action scenes — though somewhat uninspired — are executed with an edge of raw tension and unfurl as kinetically charged slugfests — with every punch, kick and shotgun blast connecting with audiences right in the gut — but it's the cast that's the best thing about the film. Joining Statham, Bosworth and Franco are Winona Ryder, Frank Grillo and Clancy Brown, with Franco turning in the standout performance of the bunch. Although his character pales in comparison to Bryan Cranston's menacing portrayal of meth lord Walter White, in Breaking Bad, Franco's role as Gator will still resonate with audiences, and it pairs well with his maniacally over-the-top performance as Alien in Spring Breakers.

Homefront comes home on Blu-ray with a transfer that skillfully replicates the color palette of the at times gritty and at other times tranquil image by cinematographer Theo van de Sande. Whether it's the nighttime scenes bathed in the neon lights of police sirens or the daytime scenes set among the shimmering rays of golden sunlight peeking through the foliage of the bayou, scene after scene pops with depth and rich colors. Picture quality is consistently as sharp as Jason Statham's stubble, with excellent contrast and no sign of artificial manipulation. The accompanying Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack is equally punchy — with gunshots, explosions and composer Mark Isham's moody, thrill-a-minute score registering loud and clear — although the dynamic range separating the film's dialog and its action tends to lean on the wide side.

The Blu-ray release includes a DVD copy of the film, as well as a smattering of HD special features, totaling a meager twelve minutes. These include two very brief featurettes, originally produced to coincide with the film's theatrical release — titled Standoff and Gator — which feature scenes from the film, accompanied by soundbites of Stallone, Fleder, Statham and Franco talking about its storyline and the character of Gator. There are also eight minutes worth of deleted scenes (four in total), consisting primarily of additional conversations between Broker and his daughter. The most notable (and worthwhile) of these is an extended ending, featuring a few extra minutes set after the film's original theatrical conclusion, which closes the film on more of a tender note.

Homefront is fronted by a stellar cast, and though it may lack the firepower to truly set it apart it from the competition, it's still an entertaining action romp that should please those moviegoers looking for a big screen brawl in a backwater bayou — especially if they also happen to be fans of the Phil Broker books. But although the Blu-ray release features an explosive A/V presentation, the special features (save for the extended ending) leave something to be desired, making Homefront on Blu-ray one you should try before you buy.

Disc Breakdown
The Film  —  ★★★
Audio/Visual Fidelity  —  ★★★★½
Special Features  —  ★★

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on November 25th, 2013.

You May Also Like