'Homefront," a potentially gonzo action flick with one of the weirdest casts in recent memory, opens with a truly wonderful image: Jason Statham, with hair.

Long hair, too, brushing the shoulders of his ripped-up biker jacket -- for Statham is playing a member of an outlaw gang. The sight of this actor's familiar bald dome wrapped in what looks like Jon Bon Jovi's wig is so inherently bizarre, and so instantaneously hilarious, that it ranks right up there with Chevy Chase's Afro in "Fletch." For one brief moment in "Homefront," you will think: This is going to be awesome.

Alas, "Homefront" becomes sub-awesome the moment Statham removes his extensions -- for he is actually playing Phil Broker, a former DEA agent who was undercover and is now uninteresting. Broker is the widowed father to a little cutie, Maddy (a rather good Izabela Vidovic), who is about to be targeted by the people he betrayed. Rachelle Lefevre plays a school psychiatrist with whom he vaguely flirts.

You're yawning, but there are glimmers of hope. One is Kate Bosworth, countercast as a vicious Louisiana junkie. And is that really James Franco as a backwoods meth maker named Gator Bodine? It is, thankfully still using his goofy Southern drawl from "Spring Breakers." Lastly, here comes none other than Winona Ryder as Gator's sleazeball girlfriend, Sheryl. Things should be getting good, right?

They never do, mainly because of a completely confused script by -- yet another surprise -- Sylvester Stallone, working from a novel by Chuck Logan. Stallone seems to be grabbing at pieces from past projects: a climax that vaguely recalls "Copland," an overall pulpy tone possibly inspired by his recent director Walter Hill (this year's underrated "Bullet to the Head"). He gets distracted by various plots (home invasion, kidnapping, cop-with-a-past) but never settles on one. While director Gary Fleder ("Runaway Juries") chases after a sense of coherence, his potentially colorful cast sits neglected.

Too bad! Still, "Homefront" will always be the movie that gave us the glorious tresses of Jason Statham. That's got to be worth something.

PLOT A former DEA agent must defend his home against a gang of drug dealers.

CAST Jason Statham, James Franco,Winona Ryder


BOTTOM LINE Mix a random cast like this and you should get some kind of weird alchemical reaction. Instead, the result is an inert gas.

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