Considering how it plunks action-Brit Jason Statham into the depths of Louisiana, where he fits in about as well as fish n’ chips at a gumbo restaurant, Homefront somehow manages to entertain nonetheless, in no small part thanks to the Sylvester Stallone-penned script that adapts Chuck Logan’s novel. In the opening scenes, we watch as one of DEA undercover agent Statham’s longer investigations ends; in the aftermath, Statham retires, moving his daughter (Izabella Vidovic) to a farm in Louisiana, thanks to the combination of Statham’s dead wife being from there and what were surely advantageous tax breaks for the production.

Of course, a film about Statham’s peaceful, calm retirement would be a substantive letdown to the audience who comes to see him spit threats and knock heads, and fortunately, that does not happen. Statham’s daughter’s run-in with a bully catches the ire of the bully’s messed-up, methed-up mom (Kate Bosworth); she asks her brother, local meth kingpin and general sleaze James Franco to handle it. You would think that any film with a meth dealer named ‘Gator’ would be a feast for Franco, but either he shot his ammo or had his fill in Spring Breakers; he’s surprisingly reined in, to the film’s benefit. Franco uncovers Statham’s past in short order and decides to sell Statham out to the crime lord whose son died in Statham’s last bust …

Director Gary Fleder is fine here; being fine is one of the things you hire someone like Fleder for, a competent technician who never quite got the top-level scripts that could have elevated his career from what it is, but who also knows how to move a camera, get a scene and light the shot. All of the action is perfectly enjoyable — a few close-quarters fights, some tense run-and-gun stuff — and the film wisely does not force a physical confrontation between two actors where it would be laughable. Frank Grillo is brought in as a motorcycle mafia enforcer (right down to a great, historically accurate “1%” tattoo on his neck), and it’s yet another part that demonstrates his ability to come in, serve a film and stay in tune. (Grillo’s been on a hell of a roll, lately; if only someone would give him his action-star shot instead of perpetually making him a side-character or bad guy …)

Stallone’s script hearkens back to the familiar themes of his career — justice over law, moral strength combined with righteous skills, family over all. It’s a curiously retro experience — for all of the blows and beatings, everything stays down close to the ground, and no one’s bulletproof. Between the humidity, the bayou backwaters and the two-fisted simplicity of it, Homefront actually makes you try to care about its characters, and sets up the web of relationships between them before it figures out the trajectories of the line of fire. By the time we see a swamp boat — one of those flat-bottomed jobs where the huge fan at the back is the motor — you can’t help but wonder what Homefront would have looked like as a late-’70s/early-’80s John Badham flick, with Burt Reynolds in the Statham role.

But we never get that, and Homefront neither stoops below nor strains above being what it is; it’s an acceptable action-thriller, a high-protein and high-fat release at a time when more virtuous, leafy and fibrous films crowd the theaters in the season before Oscar madness. It almost need not be said that Statham is easy to watch; too easy, perhaps, which is someday going to be a problem for either him or his audience, but that’s not something to discuss now. If your Thanksgiving holidays could use some physical violence to break up the emotional tension, Homefront is a nice enough place to visit.