Many column inches have been given to actor Mel Gibson’s personal exploits. His actions have seen him go from being a cinematic hero to Hollywood pariah with work swiftly fading. Over the last decade, he has occasionally dipped his thespian oar in the water with mixed results.
Whatever one thinks about the man, the actor still has what it takes to deliver a strong performance. Blood Father proves Gibson-the-performer still has some mileage left with this magnetic role making use of his emotional diversity.
John Link (Gibson) is an ex-con trying to go on the straight and narrow. A recovering alcoholic, his wife left him and his daughter Lydia (Erin Moriarty) vanished. Suddenly Lydia re-enters his life, bringing destruction in her wake. On the run from deadly drug dealers, she pleads with him to help. Reluctantly taking up arms, Link’s grizzled demeanour aims its steady gaze at all those daring to bring thunderous fire to his wayward existence.
Using a father/daughter bonding motif as its base, Blood Father becomes a story about redemption. The duo’s self-esteem is in pieces initially, with their pairing giving them a focus they desperately lack. Link, in particular, is a lost soul searching for new horizons with a percolating rage ready to explode. Gibson and Moriarty bring intense believability to their roles providing an authenticity to the often savage story.
Making Blood Father stand-out is the cinematography which successfully conjures the vast expanses in which the characters live. The wide-open spaces mask the enclosed feelings of inertia the characters feel, with only their changing attitudes able to set them free. The action sequences and direction are stylishly handled with the short run-time mirroring the quick brutality the characters face. The sense of urgency in which to escape their predicament is keenly felt as the drama and action is effectively combined.
Mel Gibson may have committed many unpardonable sins but Blood Father isn’t one of them. A tight, edgy thriller. Utilising his character’s path to enlightenment, perhaps it’s a path Gibson needs to endure in order to see him return to cinematic glory.
Reviewed by Patrick Moore
Rating out of 10: 7