Blood Father movie full length review - Blood Father - Mel still easing back (SPOILERS!)
Before leaked comments of a drunken Mel Gibson ranting anti Semitic comments at a policeman torpedo his career options, Gibson was a bonafide, A list, star.
He made his name on the rough and ready, seminal classic Mad Max and its sequels, cementing his status in the buddy cop movie genre with the Lethal Weapon films.
While his career was in the ascendancy, he enhanced his reputation further with stints behind the camera, directing and starring in The Man Without A Face and Braveheart. He continued and continues to direct, receiving a lukewarm reception for the religious effort, The Passion of Christ and doing better box office in 2006's Apocalypto.
Around the same time of Apocalypto gearing up for a cinema release, Gibson's drunken, anti Semitic rant came to light and it became a hard decade for the star. It would be 2010 before he would 'open' a film with Edge of Darkness. The film, though right in Gibson's wheelhouse, failed to reignite his career, grossing only half its cost.
2016 and Gibson has returned once again with the lazily named Blood Father. Blood Father sees Gibson as Link, an ex con and recovering alcoholic, whose estranged daughter, Lydia (Erin Moriaty), who we see has been missing since the age of fourteen, calls him up after she, mistakenly it turns out, believes she has killed her Mexican gangland boyfriend, Jonah. Desperate to reconnect with his child, Link leaves his tattoo parlour, trailer home and goes to rescue his daughter.
The father rescuing his daughter is a well trodden trope in film, with one of the best executions of the genre being 2008's Taken, a film that raised the bar for hard nut fathers protecting their daughters. Where Taken had a quick build up and continual escalating action, Blood Father suffers from being a film of continual build up.
When they are forced to flee his trailer park home, having been found by Jonah's gang, they go and see an old acquaintance of Links, Preacher, who he's says owes him for keeping his silence whilst incarcerated. Preacher turns out to be a bit of a git. Not that he exactly was hiding his displeasure at reacquainting with Link, even as Link reminds him that he owes him for his silence, Preacher pretty much tells him that they are no longer friends. Finding out there is a price on the daughter's head, Preacher decides he wants to collect the reward and tries to hold them both. Link extricates them from the situation and they are forced on to the road once again.
Their next trip takes them to a clichéd, any town, motel. Ignoring a chance for the relationship between father and daughter to be explored, the film goes another direction. What we get is infantile attraction between Lydia and the young night worker at the motel, who Lydia decides to visit during the night. He, puppy eyed, tells her that their faces are all over the news. Lydia calls Link, they have to leave. At the same time, a terminator-esque contract killer, The Cleaner - this is shown by his execution of a couple of police officers -is also looking for the on-the-run father and daughter and he is not giving out hugs.
With both of their identities having been broadcast on national television, Link, who had been sporting a Grizzly Adams of a beard, shaves and Lydia dyes her hair from dark to blonde. A clean shaven Link goes back to prison to get information on who might be trying to kill them, meanwhile a now blonde Lydia is found by her not dead ex, Jonah - because a blonde could not have killed anybody - and kidnapped. The film is trundles towards its climax. Jonah intercepts a call from Link and agrees to an exchange. In a rocky, desert location, Link goes to meet up with Link and his cronies in the hope of getting his daughter back. Using an explosion as a distraction, Link is killed by the Cleaner in a shoot out as he rescues Lydia. Lydia cleans up her life in homage to her father.
As a film Blood Father is okay. it is not terrible, nor is it great. The acting is good across the board, even though the actors are given very little to work with in some regards. It is pretty much the Mel Gibson show, though for some reports to say it is a return to form - whatever that means - is disingenuous. Gibson has always been a credible actor regardless of his less than savoury public utterings. Regardless of the vehicle, he has always brought a believable performance and does and has done good work. Blood Father, though not awful, is a film that you can wait for on your local streaming platform.