WATCH THE TRAILER for Homefront, and you won't quite be able to tell if it's a parody or not. You've got Jason Statham starring, of course, as a tough guy with a history; in this case he's a cop who used to wear a really bad wig and go undercover with biker gangs. Statham is seen in several golden-framed scenes interacting with his precocious young daughter (Izabela Vidovic), where she says something about how much she misses her mommy, who died about a year ago. Statham misses her, too. Their decent new life in a small Louisiana town is endangered when they cross paths with a smarmy meth cook named Gator who's played by... here's where the parody part really kicks in... James Franco. Is this one of Franco's famous art-school projects, a shrugging pastiche made up of the most clichéd plot elements imaginable? And what if I told you Sylvester Stallone wrote the screenplay? What would you say then?
But Homefront is surprisingly watchable, especially when compared with the generic action-movie product Statham's been pumping out lately. The stakes are refreshingly low (Gator is a small-time crook with aspirations of becoming a lower-middle-class crook), and the action is fast and dirty. Unfortunately, the action is nearly impossible to follow, too. Anything good caught on camera seems to happen in spite of director Gary Fleder, who traffics almost entirely in action-movie clichés.
But everything else is... pretty okay. The script doesn't sing or anything, but Stallone doesn't embarrass himself, either. Franco is just the right flavor of ham, reveling in his petty little kingdom. Winona Ryder holds her own as a washed-up biker skank—she looks angular, these days, and it suits her—and a deathly thin Kate Bosworth agitates the plot as Gator's meth-addicted sister. Homefront delivers a higher class of cast than Statham usually gets to bounce off of, and it turns out that makes all the difference.