Thursday, September 01, 2016

Blood Father

Aside from his comic book villains in THE EXPENDABLES 3 and MACHETE KILLS, BLOOD FATHER is Mel Gibson’s first major film role since 2012’s GET THE GRINGO and his first to open theatrically since 2010’s EDGE OF DARKNESS. It’s a tough, lean action picture directed by Jean-Francois Richet (ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13), the type of movie Don Siegel and Phil Karlson used to make.

Mel plays an ex-con, two years sober, living in a trailer in the desert where he makes a few bucks as a tattoo artist. His ex-wife hates him, his teenage daughter ran away four years earlier, and his only friend (William H. Macy) is also his AA sponsor. Then Lydia (Erin Moriarty), his daughter, returns, and she’s in trouble and on the run from Mexican drug dealers.

As far as stories go, BLOOD FATHER is pretty standard action fare with crisp dialogue by high-profile screenwriters Andrea Berloff (STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON) and Peter Craig (THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PARTS 1 and 2). The success of a film often is not its story, however, but how it is told, and BLOOD FATHER is tersely directed for maximum impact and minimal b.s. If it doesn’t propel the story forward or provide insight into the character, Richet doesn’t shoot it, which makes for a satisfying thriller.

Gibson is extremely good and certainly sympathetic as a formerly not-so-great guy putting in a sincere effort to go straight and having that effort threatened by his daughter’s appearance. He and Moriarty (JESSICA JONES) have believable chemistry, and he certainly hasn’t lost his touch in the running, shooting, and punching departments. Richet leavens the violence with touches of humor, including a witty opening in which a young woman buys several boxes of bullets, but is asked for ID to buy cigarettes. THEN CAME BRONSON star Michael Parks is great as a wild-eyed former confederate of Gibson’s who sells Nazi paraphernalia online.

1 comment:

Grant said...

I've always been fond of Michael Parks. Along with THEN CAME BRONSON, he's in of my favorite odd comedies, THE HAPPENING (the 1967 film of that name).
I also buy the kinds of things that character sells online, for completely non-political reasons (something it's a little tricky explaining to people).