Friday, 9 September 2016

Blood Father

While everyone is talking about Mel Gibson's upcoming Hacksaw Ridge, it seems like Blood Father has snuck under our radars. Blood Father, directed by Jean-Fran├žois Richet, provides us with a solid action thriller with just enough emotion and comedy thrown in to make it interesting. Mel Gibson seems to finally be moving into the next logical character stage of his acting career: buff dad. Think Taken, if Liam Neeson found his daughter instantly, and was much, much angrier. 

Recovering alcoholic and ex-convict John Link (Mel Gibson) reconnects with his estranged daughter Lydia (Erin Moriarty) after she gets caught up in the workings of a small Mexican cartel, led by her boyfriend Jonah (Diego Luna). Link, not wanting to lose his daughter again, relapses back into his old criminal ways to protect her.

In any action thriller film, you might expect character and dialogue depth to be lacking; that is not the case at all with Blood Father. Link's explosive actions and gruff speech make him believable as a struggling ex-con, while Lydia totally sells as a confused girl in way over her head. The acting of both Mel Gibson and Erin Moriarty are much to commend for this success, working off each other flawlessly in a messed up father-daughter dynamic, in roles that feel strangely comfortable for both actors. The dialogue between the two is especially well-measured, with just enough emotion and comedy thrown in without feeling over the top.


In this same manner, Blood Father deals with both gang and bikie culture in a way that does not feel forced or excessive, and it creates an interesting dynamic to the film's story. The action sequences and shootouts are believable and ultimately well-shot, utilising the film's use of a mostly mobile camera to create lively and fast-paced scenes. This highly mobile camera feel adds a layer of chaos to the design of the film, mimicking that of the story itself. This is paired with the overall aesthetics of the film being convincing, both in the costuming and makeup of the characters and the locations and designs of scenes. After all, it's difficult for a film set in the California desert to not be beautiful.


Despite some very slight pacing issues, Blood Father is a surprisingly enjoyable action flick and ultimately a  very fun movie. No doubt a role like this would've been hard for Gibson following his own drug and alcohol addictions, but both he and Moriarty are both wholesomely convincing as leads and drive the movie in the right direction. It might be rash to claim this movie as a comeback for Gibson, but it is definitely a start, and the film would not be the same with any other actor in his place.


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