Blood Father, review: ‘Honest drama that can’t stick to straight and narrow’

Mel Gibson in Blood Father. Picture: Warner Bros

Mel Gibson in Blood Father. Picture: Warner Bros - Credit: Archant

Blood Father is short but fearsome; much like its leading man. At the start of the film a bearded, ex-con Mel Gibson grumpily tells his support group he has been clean and sober for two years

Blood Father is short but fearsome; much like its leading man. At the start of the film a bearded, ex-con Mel Gibson grumpily tells his support group he has been clean and sober for two years.

And that’s the message audiences are supposed to take from this thriller: Mel’s still mean, moody and mad, but he’s also repentant.

The latest in a series of Gibson comeback efforts, it’s much like all the others: broadly enjoyable without quite doing enough to seal the deal. In this one he is trying to protect his daughter (Erin Moriarty) from a group of South American drug dealers. He applies himself to the task with a tenacity that borders on the ferocious, a bit like the way he applies himself to the retrieval of his lost fame.

Anyone else would’ve given up by now, but Gibson is adamant that, aged 60, he still warrants movie stardom, and he makes a strong case here. His great skill is being character actor and movie star simultaneously. As Link, you can see the scars of a bad man scratching around wondering what to do with himself now that his demons aren’t driving him, while all the time still being Mel Gibson action hero.


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Gibson is a man out of time. He was born to sit in some 70s down at heel bar amidst the murk and grime of a gritty Elmore Leonard adaptation. But fate has forced him to run around in gleaming, magic hour fantasies of ultra-violence. This film has a similar trajectory, an honest drama that can’t stick to the straight and narrow and every so often has to open up with a hail of bullets or show of force that is more than is necessary.

Rating: 3/5 stars

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