Mad Max meets retirement.
Holy shit, Mel Gibson still makes films? Blood Father sees Gibson return to (somewhat) fine form, as a vengeful father determined to protect his daughter at all costs. However, while Gibson’s character shines on screen, the rest of the plot fizzles out in the background, ultimately making Blood Father a forgettable action piece.
John (Gibson) is an ex-convict, living on parole in a middle of nowhere trailer park. Whilst making a living as a tattoo artist for its residents, he receives a call from his daughter Lydia (Erin Moriarty), who is terrified and desperate for help. After being missing for 14 years, Lydia has wandered into the dangerous world of drug cartels, and a recent botched operation sees her on the run for her life. It’s up to John and his vast number of associates to determine how to avoid returning to prison and also safeguard his daughter from those destined to kill her.
Even at only 88 minutes, this film felt like it ran for a lifetime. This stems from the fact that although set as an action film, we don’t witness anywhere near as much as action as you would want. Instead of receiving Mel Gibson tearing people apart left, right and centre, what we get is a lackluster look at the relationship between him and his daughter, as well as his forgettable interactions with his numerous associates. This could work if it weren’t for the fact that this is so uninteresting to watch. Erin Moriarty (The Watch, Captain Fantastic) is fantastically terrible in one of the most unconvincing and laughable performances of 2016. If there was a category for worst performance that I’ve seen this year, it unfortunately goes to her.
Where the film thankfully excels is in the charm and charisma of Mel Gibson. I genuinely loved his every appearance in the film, which only goes to show once again why he has become a household name. He can bring a threatening sense of grittiness one second, then make you laugh the next. Sadly, these moments are few and far between. The story wants us to appreciate the relationship he develops with his daughter, which would be admirable if not for the annoyance of Moriarty popping up throughout. If this had been Mad Max coming out of retirement and going commando style like Schwarzenegger famously set out, this film would have been great.
If there’s one thing to take away from seeing Blood Father, it’s an appreciation for how much Mel Gibson can bring to the table of any film. Had it not been for him, I doubt I would have rated this film as highly as I did. Director Jean-François Richet has some way to go. Hopefully Gibson returns soon to a sharpened action film he so much deserves.
Blood Father is available in Australian cinemas from September 1st
Image courtesy of Icon Film Distribution