Tuesday, November 26, 2013

'Homefront' Review SPOILER FREE

The ever prolific Jason Statham is back for his third film this year! First it was Parker, then Redemption/Hummingbird and now, finally, the Sylvester Stallone penned Homefront, based on the book by Chuck Logan.
My reviews of his earlier outings this year were full of pride and praise for the guy who, despite harsh, incorrect criticism and rarely stella box office, continues churning out diverse, yes I said it, diverse films.
This time round please take that as read because, actually, in Homefront, Statham has delivered his most throwback, recognisable and just down right enjoyable action film of the year. While the junkets and interviews for this have tried to emphasise the emotion in the story, Statham showing vulnerability as a father and talk of The Man Who Is The Stath trying something different, actually this is the one movie this year that he's made that is just a straight up, old school, action film.

When the movie starts we see undercover agent Stath's last case gone bad when his delicate work undercover with a biker gang is shattered by the heavy and messy hand of the DEA. He resigns, his wife gets sick and dies and so his daughter (Izabela Vidovic) and him move to the Louisiana countryside that his wife loved so much. He hasn't been there long when trouble at the daughter's school escalates into confrontations with the local, strung-out hillbilly woman (an almost unrecognisable Kate Bosworth) and her no good, dentally challenged, lank haired man. Bosworth happens to be the sister of the local nut job meth dealer Gator (James Franco), who is unceremoniously banging an ex druggie biker chick (Winona Ryder) who,     in turn, happens to know the old biker gang who still hold a massive grudge against our musclebound, monosyllabic, balding hero.
The stage is set for all hell to break lose and for The Stath to do what he does best and clean house. Throw in a crooked but charming sheriff (The always welcome Clancy Brown), the dependable, one good man in a hick town, best friend (Omar Benson Miller) and the beautiful, red headed, more than perfect, school psychologist (Rachelle Lefevre) and you've got yourself a damn enjoyable, by the book, nostalgia tinted, kick ass action movie.

If you've seen and loved Walking Tall or Road House then you'll like this. In fact I had to chuckle when I heard the name he was using, at the beginning, as an undercover biker. You'll see what I mean...

Much has been made of the script being written by Sylvester Stallone, you know because short-term memory critics forget the man has written a ton of screenplays, was Oscar nominated and developed three of the most successful franchises of all time, but, here, again,  he shows that he hasn't lost his touch. Stallone writes relatable, human and enjoyable, kick ass entertainment and he does it almost better than anyone else. That's what you get here, some pretty decent character moments, some recognisably entertaining and enjoyable interactions, the odd cool one liner and action on and off through out.
There is a pause in the middle to allow for character and plot development, some father and daughter bonding scenes and a nice sense of building tension for the third act fight but Statham dispatching some lunk headed rednecks is never far away.

As for the action we get a couple of car chases, some old fashioned fisty cuffs and even an enormous explosion. Statham is an old pro at this stuff and, thankfully, there isn't too much shaky cam-itis or heavy handed editing to ruin his masterful handling of the rough and tumble, although, ideally I'd prefer my fight scenes with no added style or flash from, overly twitchy, DPs at all.
The direction from Mr. Old-reliable, Gary Fleder (Kiss The Girls, The Runaway Jury) is absolutely fine. He captures everything with the minimum of fuss and you're never unsure of what is going on. I imagine it would be difficult to make Louisiana look ugly but Fleder and his DP do their best to really make the surroundings pop with colour and texture.

As for the acting, the mad hodgepodge of a supporting cast do their roles pretty damn well actually. Kate Bosworth stands out in her role of the tweaker sister and it's by far the best she's been in anything I've seen her in. Franco is good, he doesn't overplay it and while he lacks overall menace and is clearly a bit out of his depth, he does his best to portray the strung out Gator as a ruthless, wasted loser who could snap at any minute. Winona Ryder doesn't have a ton to do and neither does Rachelle Lefevre but Clancy Brown and Omar Benson Miller are effortlessly enjoyable and welcome whenever they're on screen.
Statham is his usual strong self, with maybe even less to say in this than in his normal roles and while he seems comfortable and it's never jarring, he does, sadly, lack great chemistry with Izabela Vidovic, the girl playing his daughter. Which is odd because in Safe he formed a very real and pleasing on screen bond with the girl in that. It is not that Izabela is no good, either, because she's a great little actress and they do have some affecting scenes together, it's just not 100% believable, not that it has to be for the film to work.
So, for all of you who don't believe Statham does anything but the same character in the same film, hopefully 2013 has proved you wrong, if it hasn't, Homefront is hardly going to go any further to change your mind, that being said, if you watched Parker and Redemption and longed for some of the wham bam, throw back days then Homefront should help stop that craving.
For me, personally, I like them all. If I had to rank his last three it would be Redemption, Homefront and then Parker but there's really very little between them. They're all damn cool.

Long may Statham continue.
- The Kick Ass Kid

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Battle of the Damned

Saturday night I went to the 'Day of the Undead' Zombie film festival in my hometown of Leicester UK. I do love a good zombie flick, but this year it had an added bonus, Battle of the Damned which is, basically, Dolph Lundgren vs Zombies.
The organiser, Zombie Ed, told us that the film company behind the movie said, “if you don’t like the sight of Dolph running around killing zombies, you’re dead inside”. Well was he right?

The basic premise is simple, Dolph plays Max Gatling, a private soldier hired to go into a cordoned off city to find the daughter of a multi millionaire. When most of his crew are killed off by the zombies, who are marauding through the city, Dolph sets off on his own to find the girl, not getting on the chopper sent in to take his group to safety. Dolph now must find the girl before the city is destroyed by the missiles attempting to wipe out the zombie infection.
Will he find the girl, get her to safety and any other survivors??

Lundgren still has it, his running shows his age, but it doesn’t stop him high kicking zombies in the face. His acting has gotten so much better over the past few years, he really is excellent, as are all the cast, everyone is pretty good, better than some acting you usually see in some lower budget movies.
Oh and Dolph teams up with robots, yep ROBOTS. The mood in the cinema watching this was fantastic, nobody was dead inside, seeing Dolph kick, stab and shoot zombies was an awesome sight, very fun and well made.
The only problem really was the old problem with action movies, in that the director really needs to hold the camera still! it goes all over the place! But overall its still a GREAT fun action horror. With zombies AND ROBOTS!!!!!
'Day of the Undead' has been running for a few years now and is always a great day for zombie fans, for more information go to www.terror4fun.com, its creator can be found on twitter @zombieeduk.
- Dr.Action