This week’s new films reviewed

Jason Statham and Izabela Vidovic in Homefront
Jason Statham and Izabela Vidovic in Homefront

The past returns to haunt former cop Jason Statham in the action thriller Homefront

HOMEFRONT (15)

Sylvester Stallone remains firmly behind the camera as screenwriter of this serpentine thriller based on the novel of the same name by Chuck Logan.

He hands over leading man duties to his Expendables co-star Jason Statham and the London-born action man reciprocates with a typically muscular, brooding performance that requires him to single-handedly take down an army of gun-toting adversaries while protecting a little girl from harm.

Director Gary Fleder elevates the pulpy source material with assured action sequences and populates smaller roles with talented supporting cast, capable of bringing characters to life in a single scene.

He is also blessed with an impressive child actor, Izabela Vidovic, whose emotionally wrought performance even manages to wring a few tears out of Statham.

Wonders will never cease.

Homefront opens in explosive fashion with a chaotic undercover police sting to bring down biker Danny T (Chuck Zito) and his criminal fraternity.

DEA agent Phil Broker (Statham) is instrumental in the bust but Danny’s son is killed during the arrest.

“You’re dead,” promises the grief-stricken biker, “your kids are dead!”

Phil hands in his badge and moves to a quiet, close-knit community, where Danny T will never find him, with his cherubic daughter Maddy (Izabela Vidovic).

She is a chip off the old block and when bullying classmate Jimmy (Marcus Hester) taunts her in the playground, she retaliates by punching him.

This simple act of self-defence sparks a feud with the boy’s parents Jimmy (Marcus Hester) and Cassie (Kate Bosworth).

They hire Cassie’s no good brother Gator (James Franco), who runs the local drug trafficking operation, to put Phil in his place.

So Gator breaks into the Broker family home, kidnaps a beloved pet and gathers evidence about Phil’s past as a DEA agent.

Armed with this vital information, Gator uses his associate Sheryl (Winona Ryder) to make contact with Danny T and alert the biker to Phil’s whereabouts.

Thus Danny’s T henchman Cyrus Hanks (Frank Grillo) and his goons arrive in town, armed to the teeth and ready to unleash hell.

Homefront is a capable, if unremarkable, yarn that plays to Statham’s strengths as a man of few monotone words and bone-crunching actions.

He somersaults, punches and sprints through the set-pieces with aplomb, and growls dialogue to move the plot along from one well sign-posted twist to the next.

Franco and Ryder are poorly served by their flimsy roles but Bosworth certainly makes an impact as a trailer trash mom, who believes that family honour should be upheld by taking down your opponents.

“It’s old school in the feuding sense around here,” one of the residents summarises.

Indeed, much of Fleder’s film feels old-fashioned and slightly out-dated, like a project that has been sitting on a shelf for 20 years and only now, someone has decided to blow off the cobwebs and dust.

RATING: 5/10

FROZEN (PG)

Loosely based on The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, Frozen proves that Disney’s animated heroines have unquestionably come of age.

Long gone are the rose-tinted days when princesses waited patiently for Prince Charming to sweep them off their feet or save them from some grim fate.

Now, the spunky, independent and self-assured heroines are just as smart and resourceful as their male contemporaries, and they don’t need the love of a man to affirm their self-worth.

Frozen is a terrific fairytale adventure that melds old-fashioned values with state-of-the-art visuals and a rousing musical score with infectious songs by husband-and-wife team Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.

Every beautifully coloured and crafted frame is crammed with wit and joy, drawing in audiences of all ages to the story of two sisters battling against both the elements and their fears to claim their rightful place on the throne.

Director Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck don’t let the pace flag and the 108 minutes pass in a blur of laughter, tears and frost-bitten action sequences, that look especially stunning in 3D with all of the computer-generated snowflakes fluttering just in front of your face.

You won’t need to wrap up warm though because the story casts an irresistible warm glow to thaw even the most cynical and jaded heart.

As children, Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) love to play together, taking full advantage of Elsa’s ability to create ice and snow from her fingertips.

When accident late one night almost ends in disaster, the King (Maurice LaMarche) agrees to wipe Anna’s memory so she forgets about her sibling’s hidden talents.

At the same time, Elsa retires from public gaze, fearful that she will hurt someone else with her powers.

When the King and Queen are subsequently lost at sea, Elsa reluctantly emerges to claim the throne.

Unfortunately, on her coronation day, her gloves come off and the locals witness her powers, branding her a witch.

She flees into the snowy mountains to live alone in a castle of ice.

Anna gives chase, leaving the kingdom in the hands of her trusted sweetheart Prince Hans (Santino Fontana).

As she ascends towards Elsa’s hideaway, Anna meets hunky ice trader Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his loyal reindeer Sven and a blissfully naive talking snowman called Olaf (Josh Gad).

Frozen is one of the best animated features to canter out of the Disney stable in years.

Warm-hearted, uplifting and constantly surprising, it’s a timeless fable that will appeal to both boys and girls thanks to uproarious comic relief from Olaf (who is too cute for words).

Bell and Menzel add vim to their plucky heroines, the latter singing the film’s stand-out song Let It Go.

As an added treat, Frozen is preceded by a black and white Mickey Mouse short, Get A Horse, that seems to hark from a bygone era but has a wicked sting in the tail.

RATING: 8.5/10

OLDBOY (18)

Director Spike Lee puts his distinctive spin on this English language remake of Park Chan-wook’s giddily violent and blood-spattered 2004 thriller.

Advertising executive Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin) is kidnapped and held hostage in solitary confinement for 20 years.

His disappearance seems to go unnoticed by the rest of the world.

Upon his release, Joe is hell-bent on revenge, but fate has some nasty surprises up its sleeve and to escape from the cycle of violence, he will have to spill copious blood.