Blood Father

Review by Adam Woodward @AWLies

Directed by

Jean-François Richet

Starring

Diego Luna Erin Moriarty Mel Gibson

Anticipation.

Looks like safe territory for Gibson. But does he still have the chops?

Enjoyment.

No question. He brings his A-game in this pulpy crime-thriller.

In Retrospect.

Lots of fun but doesn’t live long in the memory.

Mel Gibson is back to his bruising best in this hugely entertaining throwback crime-thriller.

There are few more exhilarating sights in all of cinema than Mel Gibson unleashing a world of hurt on a bunch of crack-eyed, greasy-haired crooks. In the lean yet muscular Blood Father, French director Jean-François Richet (Mesrine) proves just that by successfully casting the seasoned action star as an ex-con and recovering alcoholic simply named Link.

From his dustbowl base somewhere in the California desert, he runs a tattoo parlour called, erm, ‘Missing Link Tattoo’, but his humble existence is rudely disrupted by estranged daughter Lydia (Erin Moriarty) who resurfaces after fatally clashing with her lowlife drug dealer boyf (an extremely hammy Diego Luna). Sincere in his will to repent previous untold sins, Link is initially reluctant to fight fire with fire when some local cartel punks swiss-cheese his trailer. His neighbour and AA sponsor Kirby (William H Macy, great as ever) repeatedly tries to persuade him to stay on the straight and narrow but to no avail – Link’s mad as Mel, and he’s not going to take it anymore.

Ironically, the redemption Link seeks arrives only after he breaks parole in emphatic, highly entertaining fashion. Bearded, beefed up and covered in prison ink, this is by far the most intimidating Gibson antihero since Porter from 1999’s Payback and his most dangerously charismatic since Lethal Weapon’s Martin Riggs. Crucially, there’s an emotional vulnerability about the character too. Maybe it’s his age – the creased brow, the greying hair, the world-weary wisdom behind his piercing eyes – but there’s something sobering about Gibson’ performance here, a psychological frailty which grounds the film in something real and relatable.

In a no-nonsense throwback crime-thriller that admittedly sets the bar pretty low for itself, Gibson does what he does best, and that’s more than enough. The fact that he (deservedly) spent the best part of the last decade in exile was on reflection Liam Neeson’s gain and Hollywood’s loss. When it comes to dishing out old-school street justice and settling scores, there’s still no one better equipped.

Published 5 Oct 2016

Tags: Mel Gibson

Anticipation.

Looks like safe territory for Gibson. But does he still have the chops?

Enjoyment.

No question. He brings his A-game in this pulpy crime-thriller.

In Retrospect.

Lots of fun but doesn’t live long in the memory.

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