Twitter Plot Summary: Ex-DEA agent Broker moves to a small town where he locks horns with a local meth dealer. Played by James Franco. I kid you not.
Director: Gary Fleder
Key Cast: Jason Statham, James Franco, Izabel Vidovic, Kate Bosworth, Marcus Hester, Clancy Brown, Winona Ryder, Omar Benson Miller, Rachelle Lefevre, Chuck Zito, Frank Grillo
Five Point Summary:
1. The Stath with biker hair. Looks weird.
2. Teaching bullies a few lessons…
3. Oh yes – Clancy Brown!
4. James Franco’s creepy grin.
5. And they swarm over Broker’s house like… er… bikers with guns.
What happens when you put perennial action hero Jason Statham in the American Deep South? Well, the same as happens in every other Jason Statham movie. Opening with the obligatory “Statham looks slightly different” prologue, Statham is Phil Broker, a DEA agent who has gone undercover with a group of bikers who are making and peddling meth. After the son of the head biker gets blown away by thirty-plus cops, Broker walks away from his DEA existence and moves with his daughter to the backwater town where his now deceased wife grew up. There, his daughter gets into an altercation with a local bully – specifically, she kicks the snot out of him – resulting in his parents demanding vengeance. Because that’s what happens in the American Deep South. Just to sell the point further, Broker has a black best friend who helpfully points out that feuds are all the range down there. Any possibility of political and/or historical subtext ends right there though – the script is by Sylvester Stallone, after all.
As you might expect, Statham’s accent varies wildly from scene to scene. I’m assuming he’s supposed to be American but that never comes across in anything he says – he’s East End London through and through. That should come as no surprise. In a somewhat strange piece of casting, James Franco plays Gator, the local meth dealer who gets in over his head when he decides to rat out Broker to the biker gang that wants revenge against him. To describe the situation between Franco and Statham as a mismatch would be underselling it greatly, but Franco does at least carry a little bit of menace even if he’s not entirely convincing. On the whole it’s a slow lead-in to the inevitable finale, but that action sequence does escalate nicely after a moderately entertaining build-up.
Even more interesting is the casting of Winona Ryder and Kate Bosworth as drug-addled losers. In the case of Bosworth she’s the one wearing the trousers in that household, but still plays second fiddle to Gator. Ryder’s character, meanwhile, basically get used as a sex doll by the bikers and by Gator – less so by Gator, as he does at least seem to have more than just carnal feelings for her, although that’s not given much room to breathe. It’s yet another film where women play second fiddle to some rather unpleasant male characters, so don’t expect any overt feminism at play – again, it’s a script by Sylvester Stallone. Go figure.
I can’t say the action sequences were particularly well shot – it suffered a little from Bayhem-style “a bit too close to the camera” syndrome. I’d go so far as to say they were serviceable rather than spectacular. Until the final act it’s also nicely low key and surprisingly light on bloodshed. The rest of the film focuses on the feud concept, involving Broker’s daughters kitten at one point. That as an idea works, but re-introducing the biker gang seems almost unnecessary – the whole feud idea had enough going for it without reaching back to the opening prologue. In the end that concept does fizzle out, but not before much mayhem and destruction has taken place. Ultimately it’s big dumb fun, an enjoyable action romp but nothing more. You know what to expect from a Jason Statham film, and this one delivers.
Favourite scene: The attack on Broker’s house. Best it gets.
Quote: “Whatever you’re thinkin’… rethink it.”