Former D.E.A. Agent Phil Broker heads to live in rural Louisiana to raise his precocious young daughter. He struggles to fit in, however, and an altercation with another parent spirals out of control when a local drug kingpin sets his sights on Broker and his daughter.
Jason Statham is Broker (apparently the actor always needs to play me with two syllable last names ending in –er, see IMDB), while James Franco is a fabulously crazy meth dealer, evoking his performance in Spring Breakers. Kate Bosworth is great as a local yokel, while Winona Ryder eventually shows up, and it’s, well, sad.
This is pretty standard and unremarkable fare, satisfying to a point, while ticking the boxes for Statham-style action films. Written by Sylvester Stallone, Statham is in his typical gruff, charming form, this time taking up a dedicated father and widow looking to raise his savvy daughter in peace.
We open with a shaggy-haired Statham as an undercover DEA agent, infiltrating a meth lab and causing chaos: there are shootings, a car chase, and some revenge vows uttered. Flash some years later and Broker has shaved his head, and taken up home in a sort of stereotypical southern town, one where the sheriff is bought, the locals don’t like outsiders, and most of the people we meet are on meth or in gangs.
So, Broker is pushed, slowly but surely, to the point where it’s okay that he fights back when his daughter, and later he himself, are bullied. Apparently this town is so small though, that some very inconvenient connections are had, to the dismay of Broker (well, he doesn’t quite know), and to the confusion of the audience.
See, after his daughter is bullied at school, and fights back in deliciously devious fashion, the bully’s parents accost papa Broker. He too fights back – he’s provoked, and we all want it, so it’s justified, but that sets forth an unfortunate and unlikely spiral of events. A wife talks to her brother, a local meth lord, and he gets some goons to go after Broker. He soon, though, learns of Broker’s past, and suddenly and inexplicably things become personal.
It’s all ludicrous and silly, but that doesn’t mean it’s not some fun along the way. Broker has two token allies, one in the very attractive school psychologist (what middle school in the south has a psychologist?) who just might be single and looking, and the other a folksy black construction worker.
Statham continues to be a likeable screen presence, even if though it’s becoming clear he can do more if he had better, while Franco has some satisfying moments with his absurdist character. For what it’s worth, and it’s not much, Stallone prefers to write a noble script, one intended with meaning, but it’s far too trivial and melodramatic to hold any weight.
After the dramatic gunfight that concludes the film – it’s to be expected, from the title to the trailer to the looks that Broker gets early and often – all that you are left with are a couple fun actors, a bunch of laugh-out-loud lines, and one incredibly random sex scene.
Should You See It?
This one can wait – it should at some point be in a box set with Parker and Safe.