Mel Gibson is nominated for an Academy Award this year, for his directing of the war epic Hacksaw Ridge. But last year, when he was working on that critically-acclaimed drama, he was also acting in an action film called Blood Father directed by Jean-François Richet – a film that, by all accounts, should’ve been abysmal in every way. An old Mel Gibson taking on the Mexican drug cartel? Seems like the sort of shit Steven Seagal would do. Imagine the world’s shock when it wasn’t awful. Imagine the world’s even bigger shock when it was actually a good bit of old-fashioned cinematic fun.
Mel plays Link, an ageing ex-con who reunites with his estranged daughter Lydia (Erin Moriarty) after she accidentally shoots her criminal boyfriend Jonah (Rogue One’s Diego Luna) in the neck and needs protection. It all becomes a rather predictable Mexican drug cartel story full of sicarios, shoot-outs and chases. But it’s one of those action films, like The Expendables, where the plot isn’t really relevant. It’s just fun to see ageing heroes kicking arse and taking names. But hey, think of your favourite fun-action films of all time…and see if you can remember the plot. You can’t, can you? Of course you can’t. Unless your favourite fun-action film is Con Air, in which case I expect you to remember every second of it because it’s one of the best films ever made…Put the bunny back in the box. The point is, a good story is not even remotely important with these films because the target audience are, you know, idiots. Not you though, of course. You’re smart.
Anyway, Blood Father isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel here. It knows exactly what it is, and it’s comfortable with that. It’s just a sun-drenched bit of mayhem. Most importantly, this is a return to Mel “The Gibbon” Gibson’s action roots and largely, he’s back on form in Blood Father. Let’s not dwell on his past troubles – the main point is that Mel has aged well as an action star, like Liam Neeson and ol’ Sly Stallone. He’s on fire here, even if his acting itself isn’t going to win any awards any time soon! I hope I can kick arse like these guys when I get to their age, although it’s more likely I’ll be Renton’s worst nightmare, “rotting away at the end of it all, pishing my last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked-up brats I have spawned to replace myself”
…Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the cast. Gibbo is great, so who does that leave? William H. Macy turns up in a supporting role and, as usual, he’s bloody great. Diego Luna portrays a pretty one-dimensional cartel thug (just like he recently played a pretty one dimensional Rebel Alliance captain), and Erin Moriarty is pretty decent as the troubled Lydia. Michael Parks is in it too, which probably won’t mean much to anyone who isn’t a film enthusiast. The film looks nice enough and while the screenplay is a little predictable, isn’t that always the case with these bangy smashy films?
Films like this are difficult to review because they have very few distinguishing features. To review this would be to review any action thriller of the last 10 years. All you can really say is that it works. It achieves what it sets out to – it’s good fun. It all boils down to your own expectation and what you want from the film, I suppose. If you’re looking for some explosive shooty bangy stabby fun, you’ll have a great time, especially if you’re not expecting much by way of substance. If you’re looking for award-winning drama or a poignant tale of fatherly love, you’d be better off looking elsewhere.
Blood Father is just good fun. Nothing more, nothing less. 3/5
Blood Father at CeX
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