Given that over the past 12 months he’s played everything from the wizard of Oz and Hugh Hefner to Spring Breakers’ “Alien” and himself in “This Is the End,” it’s tough to speculate about how James Franco chooses his film roles.
But it would be easy to believe that he agreed to play the swamp rat drug dealer in “Homefront” just for the opportunity it provides for him to bellow out his character’s memorable name, as in “My name is Gator Bodine!!!” Franco clearly relishes the handle, which is more than most people will feel about this trashy, manipulative, by-the-numbers crime drama in which Jason Statham wrestles with both Gator and an American accent.
The ham-fisted script, based on a novel by Chuck Logan, was written some years ago by none other than Sylvester Stallone as a prospective final chapter to the Rambo saga. The way it’s turned out here is more reminiscent of some bad good-ol’-boy 1976 melodrama that could have starred Jan-Michael Vincent and Joe Don Baker and involved rednecks mightily suspicious of the outsider who’s come to live in their midst.
The boiler-plate opening action scene isn’t bad, as undercover DEA agent Phil Broker (Statham in a wig) spearheads a bust of a big city drug lab. The whole joint blows up and when the big boss is led away by the cops, he gets off a promise to Broker that sets the tone for most of the film’s dialogue: “Your kids are f--- dead.”
A couple of years later, Broker is living with his bright young 10-year-old daughter Maddy (Isabela Vidovic) in rural Rayville, La. Her mother having died the year before, Maddy has been receiving self-defense tips from her macho Dad, and while he’s trying to figure out whether to settle on an East End or Southern accent, she retaliates to bullying from a schoolyard fatso by punching him out.