Directed by Jean-François Richet
Written by Peter Craig, Andrea Berloff
Starring Mel Gibson, Erin Moriarty, Michael Parks, William H. Macy, Diego Luna
Review by Jordan
“When you owe your life to somebody, you better make sure you live it”
An anarchic, full-throttle and old-school tale of vigilantism and revenge reminiscent of its ‘70’s forefathers and steered by the stern face of gruff determination that Mel Gibson has made all his own in a now-volatile career, Blood Father is the surprise packet of 2016, unfolding its plot as it motors down the dusty desert highway to the Californian Badlands and never flinching when the trip gets rocky.
When Lydia (Moriarty), the recently missing, drug-addled teenage daughter of ex-con Link (Gibson) phones him out of the blue in need of help for fear of her life, the now sober, trailer park tattoo artist with a weathered face as cracked as the desert floor accepts the challenge that will almost certainly see him back behind bars. Having shot her gangland boyfriend and left him for dead, she is hunted by the cartel, who soon also want the head of her protective father as his killer instincts go into overdrive in a bid to make amends for being replaced by three stepfathers when it should’ve been him.
Presented in a punchy, refreshingly linear fashion by director Jean-François Richet (2005’s Assault on Precinct 13), his film captures all of the magnificent danger and griminess required to feel genuine; the real deal: a quick-fire exploitation treat complete with short shorts, motorcycle chases and bullets galore. Side characters, lead by washed-up sociopath and Neo-Nazi Preacher (the scene-stealing, dialogue chewing Michael Parks), flesh out an insular world created solely for the thrills therein, with Link’s neighbor and sponsor Kirby (William H. Macy) his friend and moral compass, and Jonah (Diego Luna) a suitably desperate villain.
Sitting exactly where it should be, on a derelict bar stool with peeling vinyl as far from high art as possible, Blood Father plays within its confines and duly entertains, and as good as Moriarty is, this is Gibson’s show. The actor, so long out of public consciousness for his ability, shows in such a surprising vehicle his commanding ability as a leading man, and just like Link it would take a braver person than I to question how far he now takes this.