Once upon a time -- the 1980s -- you could walk into a movie theater any day of the year, plop down a few bucks, and watch one man kick another man's ass. Not every action flick was great, but most were good enough, the film equivalent of pizza. Back then, Jason Statham, the star of the new action drama Homefront -- and another two dozen just like it -- would have been a forgettable punching bag. Today, he's an action lover's last hope. Today's stunt heroes don't have Arnold Schwarzenegger's swagger, Jean-Claude Van Damme's splits, or Sylvester Stallone's operatic flopsweat. Statham has no hook, not even a memorable mustache. Instead, he seems glumly determined to convince us he can act. Statham plays ex-DEA agent Phil Broker, hiding in Louisiana from a gang he busted. When his nine-year-old daughter punches the school bully in the nose, she precipitates a chain of clan violence, angering the boy's redneck mom (Kate Bosworth, improbably), her drug-dealing brother (James Franco, ironically), his biker girlfriend (Winona Ryder, unabashedly), and her outlaw acquaintances, who are thrilled the fed who set up their friends has resurfaced. I'd pay good money for a spin-off about Bosworth and Franco's swamp family, with their high cheekbones and violent glee. Imagine their Christmas cards. Alas, we're stuck in this flick, which builds to a deadly climax designed to vindicate stand-your-ground laws. Statham can deliver the hits -- he literally fights two men with his hands tied behind his back -- and here he officially passes the Schwarzenegger Star Test: playing a regular American guy without masking his European accent. He needs to make us love him, though.
Gary FlederJason Statham, James Franco, Kate Bosworth, Frank Grillo, Izabela Vidovic, Clancy Brown, Omar Benson Miller, Winona Ryder, Jeremiah Johnson, Seth AdairSylvester Stallone, Chuck LoganOpen Road Films