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Movie review: 'Homefront,' 1.5 stars

Fans of James Franco's long, strange trip across the pop-cultural landscape really shouldn't miss "Homefront," which finds the polymath taking a break from doing just about everything else to play the bad guy in a Jason Statham movie.

Is Franco's appearance here another chapter in his self-reflexive journey into the depths of celebrity image-crafting? Is he flat-out messing with us?

Or did he actually enjoy Sylvester Stallone's script and genuinely believe that it was worth his time to take part in the umpteenth action flick about an agent with "a special set of skills" who just can't seem to get the peace and quiet he so desperately desires?

The answers could be "yes," or "no," or somewhere in between. Whatever the case may be, there's no question that this is one of the oddest chapters in this period of all-Franco, all-the-time, as he's a thoroughly unconvincing low-rent meth dealer and not even close to an adequate physical counterpart to Statham's ex-DEA agent Phil Broker.

In fact, Franco's appearance here only serves to highlight one of the big problems with Statham in general. He's too tough to ever seem overwhelmed, imposed or vulnerable, and Stallone's script requires some measure of those feelings as Broker and his daughter are threatened by the re-emergence of his rocky past.

Strip "Homefront" of the drama that comes from Franco's Gator threatening the Broker clan and you're left with a half-baked action flick that regurgitates the classic archetype of a tough guy fending off redneck heavies without a hint of the humor or energy of past gems such as "Road House."

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