Stallone's movie liberties with 'Homefront' don't bother Minnesota book's author a bit

Broker (Jason Statham) confronts Gator Bodine (James Franco) and his girlfriend Sheryl (played by Minnesota-native Winona Ryder) in "Homeland."
Courtesy of Justin Lubin/Open Road Pictures

Some authors might object to a big-time Hollywood star messing mightily with one of their novels.

But when Sylvester Stallone's recent adaptation of "Homefront" opens in theaters nationwide on Wednesday, Minnesota writer Chuck Logan will be among those pleased to see what unfolds on the big screen.

Logan, who lives in Stillwater, rarely minces words. So he doesn't hesitate to describe how his career was going before Stallone optioned the rights to his popular book -- and how the film could direct new audiences to his work.

"I was dead in the water," Logan said. "And now I have some options."

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In writing the script, Stallone takes quite a few liberties with the 2005 novel. "Homefront" is the story of former undercover police officer Phil Broker, who after breaking up a biker drug operation tries to lay low in a small town with his daughter. But trouble follows him.

Played by chisel-jawed action star Jason Statham, Broker is soon butting heads with local crook Gator Bodine, played by James Franco. Bodine tries to intimidate Broker by breaking into his house. He eviscerates Broker's daughter's stuffed rabbit, and kidnaps her cat. Broker tracks him down to the local cafe.

"We've never been properly introduced, you and me," Broker says.

Author Chuck Logan
Even though screenwriter Sylvester Stallone changed a great deal of the original story for the film adaptation, author Chuck Logan is with "Homefront," he says, because it has resurrected his Phil Broker series of books.
Euan Kerr/MPR News

"Well, I won't ask your name," Bodine replies with a smile. "I personally believe a reputation's the most important thing."

"Look, I don't want any more problems," snarls Broker.

"OK. Anything else you're thinking hard about? Because I can smell the wood burning," says Bodine, refusing to back down.,

"If someone has an issue with me, keep it there," says Broker."I don't want my kid involved."

Jason Statham fans will be pleased that he portrays Phil Broker as a man of action, far more pugilistic than the character in the novel. "Homefront" is punctuated with balletic punch-ups and blazing fire-fights.

Logan shrugs off the transformation of his character. However, he said he's happy with the way Stallone has preserved the father-daughter relationship in the film, which is central to the novel.

Logan fans, however, may be a little mystified by the changes Stallone made to the novel's storyline. For instance, the character Logan describes as the main character in the book, Nina Pryce, has died before the action that takes place in the movie.

They also might wonder about Jason Statham's unexplained British accent.

Cassie and Gator
Kate Bosworth plays meth addict, Cassie, who convinces her brother, Gator Bodine (played by James Franco), to try to scare Broker after his daughter, Maddy, bloodies her son's nose in a playground dispute. This leads Bodine to discover about Broker's past, and how the biker gang he busted is seeking revenge.
Courtesy of Justin Lubin/Open Road Pictures

Logan chalks it up to the Tinseltown experience.

"It's kind of like 'Star Trek,'" he said. "Your story reports to the transporter room and you get beamed into the parallel universe of Hollywood. But not everybody makes it through the portal. For instance, the main character in the book isn't in the movie. You know what I mean? The daughter's name changes apparently from Kit to Maddy. Northern Minnesota becomes Louisiana, and my shaggy Northwoods character Broker becomes a bald-headed Brit."

Despite great reviews for his Broker books, a few years ago Logan's publisher told him declining sales meant Broker was done. Logan tried to drum up interest in an e-book about homeless veterans, but didn't get very far.

"This was basically called the death spiral of the mid-list writer," he said. "And at the last minute before I augured in, along came this skyhook from Millennium Pictures, and here we are. And I am just cracking up about it."

Even though he has only seen trailers for the film, Logan is in love with it because it may well revive his career as a novelist.

"I caught a break," he said. "I caught a real, serious break. And the facts are there is a movie, and it has some star-power in it and as a result of the movie I have been rediscovered by my old publisher, which is always a fun thing, you know. And they are bringing out, they are re-issuing, the book it's based on in three editions."

Not only is Homefront being re-released in bookstores, Logan is now writing a prequel. He also plans a novel about Phil Broker's daughter who he is still calling Kit.

As for the film, Logan is hopeful. He describes some of Sylvester Stallone movies as "cheesy," but points out that he Stallone has also produced some gems.

But is Logan really betting that Statham will want to continue to portray Phil Broker?

"Statham did some fairly dramatic work early in his career before he struck gold by kicking and punching," Logan said. "Hopefully he is looking for a vehicle to continue that, and I've got five other books out there, so I'm a happy guy."

Logan admits it's a long shot. But for the moment, he's having a ball.