Blood Father online movie review - He's hunting for blood
This is my review of Blood Father (spoiler free)
BLOOD FATHER OPENS with our hero John Link (Gibson) in a rehabilitation meeting surrounded by people who have exactly the same problems as him, talking about his problems and the fact that he thinks he will never see his daughter and has a chance to reminisce on the life he had with his wayward daughter. The moment is very melodramatic and filled with moments that are a bit slow to start but then manages to pull it's self together and carry on with the story. Since his drunken 2010 outbursts and other revelations that landed him in career jail, Mel Gibson's mostly just kept his head down and only appears in a few large roles (The Expendables, Machete Kills and Meet The Gringo) he has done his time and, more recently, tried to dip his toe back into working both behind and in front of the camera, with varying results.
It could be very tempting that he took the lead in Jean-Francois Richet's pulpy throwback action thriller because it offers a much bloodier and bolder vengeful metaphor for his story, but it's due to the fact that he was attracted to playing the role as John Link as it let him channel the characters he used to play so well (i.e. Mad Max). His Link is more of an aged Martin Riggs, albeit one with an even darker past and less inclination to stay on the right side of the law, not quite succeeding in that sense but it sure is good to see Gibson back on the action front. The film, itself is written by Peter Craig based on his 2005 novel of the same name, and Andrea Berloff (World Trade Centre, Straight Outta Compton), at times it feels like just another variant on the particular action genre that was re-established by 2008s Taken ? we have yet another father who's daughter gets kidnapped and relies on his particular set of skills to save her from a nightmarish scenario. There are several obligatory desperate phone calls shot through with a sincere promise of violence, but doesn't always live up-to that promise.
However the typical gang of enforcers sent to shoot, punch or even kidnap the right target, those moments mostly unfold with our main man letting the muzzle of a pistol do the talking for him. In this case, the familiar situation is let a little further off the leash, powered by Gibson's growly, wrinkly, bearded tough nut, one with very little patience for people who try to kill him or really anybody who goes near him. Throughout the film it seems like the ideal role for Gibson to return to the action genre, he does it with style and with immense bad-assary and he's well balanced by Erin Moriarty's occasionally sulky, but usually spirited Lydia, who is looking for her own measure of redemption even as she's not quite sure how to achieve it properly. And that gives the two characters share a much fractured relationship, but there are moments when it has room to breathe with several heart-to-heart conversations that mean the story is not wall-to-wall action and thus, is balanced.
However, the down side of the movie is that those moments don't entirely work throughout; there are several moments of daddy-daughter bonding come across as overly melodramatic, movie-of-the-week-style scenes, although the grit and the grime seem awfully routine and it feels as if the John has planned a way to kill the gang members, as some of the clashes happen in dusty, out-of-the-way places that show that there is little law enforcement around to stop the bullets flying. Richet also favours a jittery camera style that is distracting in some set-pieces taking away from the beauty of some of the desert locations, also look ruined from the amount of dying men in a pool of blood but as Richet tries his best to keep the entire scenery amidst all the action but doesn't quite succeed.
Fortunately, there are some good attributes to consider in the story; he's stacked the cast with reliable performers, including William H. Macy as Link's best pal and sponsor, Kirby, Miguel Sandoval as unforgiving crime boss Arturo, and Michael Parks, all gruff charm that he is famous for as our hero's old biker leader named Preacher, a man with a hoard of weapons you just know will come in handy at some point. There is also an exciting motorcycle chase with bullets flying, seeming like more of Jason Bourne moment but Gibson pulls it off nonetheless. The story gets slightly more predictable as it staggers towards the ending, in a moment when you think the hero is going to win with several bodies in a pool of blood surrounding him, well he sort of wins and he sort of doesn't but we won't spoil that. Still, this is Gibson's film through and through, and if you miss what he used to be, you'll find an acceptable, if slightly careworn here.
VERDICT: This is Mel Gibson back to doing what he once did best, just older and grumpier. Like the main character, the movie has problems but delivers when it needs to.
6/10 action packed