Blood Father review: A sun-kissed tale of redemption as Mel Gibson returns to leading man status for this enjoyable actioner.

Blood Father review by Paul Heath, October 2016.

Blood Father review

Mel Gibson returns to his roots for this ultra-violent actioner from director Jean-Francois Richet (Mesrine) which is a kind of cross between Taken and Mad Max (with even a hint of Riggs from Lethal Weapon thrown in for good measure).

Richet’s neatly packaged 88-minute affair places Gibson as a down-on-his-luck ex-con and recovering alcoholic John Link, a drifter who now resides in the baron lands of rural California as he sees out his parole. His existence is pretty much limited to a trailer in the dusty desert where the tattoo-artist also conducts his business. Close-by is Link’s sponsor, William H. Macy‘s Kirby who watches over his recovery, ensuring the former criminal stays on the straight and narrow while at the same timing avoiding a relapse into his alcoholism. That isn’t easy when his only daughter is still missing after she’s run off with a gang of dodgy drug-dealers, headed by the nasty piece of work that is Diego Luna‘s Jonah. The 17-year-old Lydia, played Erin Moriarty (so good in this year’s Captain Fantastic), is observed in the opening scene committing a rather unsightly act against her new found friends so she must return to her father for support after they threaten to kill her.

Blood Father review

Blood Father is essentially old-school, classic Gibson returning to the type of film which made his name in the 1980s. With a successful directorial career including more serious affairs like The Man Without A Face, his Oscar-winning Braveheart and of course The Passion Of The Christ and the upcoming Hacksaw Ridge (which is also apparently very awards-worthy), Gibson has chosen to go a completely different direction with his acting career, carefully securing a role in a film which is the polar opposite of the aforementioned. Blood Father is supremely violent, sweary affair, most of it coming from the direction of Gibson’s link, a protagonist/ anti-hero who we side with purely for his motives – to protect and fight for the good of his daughter. Moriarty’s Lydia is the kind of kid who annoys us all the way, but we finally see the good in her as the story progresses and her character matures.

The big theme here, of course, is redemption – almost ironic because of Gibson’s placing as the lead, but because of the solid screenplay by writers Peter Craig and Andrea Berloff, as well as superb, relentless direction and pace from Richet, Blood Father is actually a much deeper yarn than its trailers or plot line suggests. With stellar support from the gifted Moriarty, as well as applauded character actors William H. Macy and a particularly gnarly, nasty though tasty turn from Michael Parks as Preacher, the film has just enough going for it to make it a decent affair. Luna’s maddened villain also pleases though it would have been nice to see a touch more from him.

Blood Father review

Audiences will see familiar traits in Gibson’s character from those films of yesteryear (Link could be Martin Riggs – 20 years on) , which is much welcomed.

The film is tense, unapologetic for its relentless violence, but disposable enough to not maintain much thought after the credits roll.

An ultra-violent, though totally enjoyable affair. We’ll even forgive the slightly cliched ending.

Blood Father review by Paul Heath, October 2016.

Blood Father is released in the UK on Friday 7th October 2016.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall