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posted: 11/26/2013 6:00 AM

Franco's creepy Gator aids botched action thriller

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  • Jason Statham, left, chews the scenery while James Franco and Winona Ryder admire his emotional range in the by-the-numbers thriller "Homefront."

      Jason Statham, left, chews the scenery while James Franco and Winona Ryder admire his emotional range in the by-the-numbers thriller "Homefront."

  • Video: HOMEFRONT trailer

 
 

In Gary Fleder's Southern-fried "Homefront," James Franco plays a bad-old boy with the wonderfully rank, white trashy name Gator Bodine (rhymes with "bovine"). He runs a boat repair shop in Louisiana; he's really a drug dealer with a meth operation ignored by law enforcement officials.

Under pressure, he narrows his eyes into snakelike slits and you can see the squeaky wheels turning. It's refreshing to see a one-dimensional villain reveal that he has no idea what he's doing sometimes.

Too bad Franco's performance gets buried under an avalanche of clichés and blurry fight scenes so poorly edited that we can't actually tell what's happening.

Martial arts star and mobile mountain Jason Statham plays Phil Broker, a former DEA agent and single parent retired to a small southern town with his 10-year-old daughter Maddy (Izabela Vidovic). When the well-trained Maddy pulverizes an elementary school bully, his emaciated mom (an ultra-skeezy Kate Bosworth) appeals to her brother Gator to teach Broker a lesson.

Soon, tough guys resembling rejects from "Deliverance" show up. Cue the blood feud and blurry fight scenes accompanied by Winona Ryder as a drug addict with a heart of fools gold.

Sylvester Stallone wrote this screenplay from Chuck Logan's novel. (The movie was conceived as a fourth chapter in the 1980s "First Blood" series starring Stallone as Vietnam War vet John Rambo,)

His script is a chunky mess of cheesy action movie clichés that possess nary a smudge of gritty realism. Do cops really scream, "Don't turn your back on me!" at people?

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