Blood Father; Director: Jean-François Richet; Distributor: SND Films; Country: France.
Whether you like him or not, Mel Gibson produces a very good Martin Riggs/Mad Max-hybrid performance in the best action film you’ll watch this year that doesn’t have a 2 1/2 hour running time. The original Road Warrior, aged 60, and sporting a grey beard with grey head hair, is directed by Jean-François Richet – the director of 2005’s Assault on Precinct 13.
The movie opens with Lydia, the estranged daughter of Mel Gibson’s character, buying ammunition at a store – despite being a young person, she’s able to purchase the items – a close-up of the ammo moving along a conveyor belt is used. The scary thing in this opening scene is that Lydia is able to buy ammunition (specifically 9mm bullets), but she needs ID to purchase a packet of cigarettes – I can’t help but feel that this, by the French director, is a dig at the US’ age policy.
Moving on, Lydia, with her ammunition purchase, is involved in a cartel based murder. Uh-oh: the planned murder goes wrong, and Lydia is now on the run from a cartel! For help (specifically money), she calls Mel Gibson’s character, John Link – a recently-released ex-con, tattoo artist, and former addict.
Crazy: Lydia, on the run from a cartel, is also listed as a “missing person” because she ran away from home – the home of her mum, NOT John Link’s trailer home – her parents are separated or divorced.
For the rest of the film, after the Links leave the trailer, Blood Father slightly transcends into a road movie, drifting from location to location, with plenty of dialogue, and on the run from a cartel. Gradually, John Link uses his links to become more knowledgeable of the cartel and tries to outwit them.
During my enjoyment of watching Blood Father, I scoped out a few (what I believe to be) throwbacks to Mel Gibson starred-films of yesteryear, here are some:
- John Link lives in a poor quality trailer within a rough area – a throwback to Mel Gibson’s character’s living standards in the first two Lethal Weapon films.
- A motorbike-riding antagonist to John Link is killed when a truck runs them over – a throwback to Toecutter’s death in the original Mad Max.
- John Link comparing past wounds or bodily damage to Lydia – a throwback to Martin Riggs comparing bullet wounds and body damage with Lorna Cole in Lethal Weapon 3.
- Link on the phone to the main antagonist, saying words similar to, “It’s the best deal you’re gonna get.” – a throwback to Tom Mullen in Ransom, when he tries to negotiate with Gary Sinise’s Jimmy Shaker.
- John Link’s random outbursts of craziness – a throwback to Martin Riggs’ wild outbursts in the first two Lethal Weapon films.
- John Link withdrawing a similar weapon to a sawn-off shotgun – a throwback to Max and the exact way he withdraws a sawn-off shotgun in Mad Max 2 aka The Road Warrior.
However, these “throwbacks” might have occurred in the source material (book of the same name), however, with Mel Gibson in the lead role, things just seem a bit too convenient.
And here are the key players:
- Mel Gibson (Lethal Weapon, Braveheart, Mad Max etc.) is John Link – our hero.
- Erin Moriarty (Captain Fantastic & The Watch) is Lydia Link – daughter of our hero.
- William H. Macy (Fargo, Mystery Men and Boogie Nights) is Kirby Curtis – Link’s sponsor and hilarious neighbour/buddy.
- Diego Luna (Milk & Elysium) is Jonah Pincerna – bad dude from the cartel gang, and Lydia’s former boyfriend.
- Raoul Trujillo (Apocalypto & Sicario) is a highly skilled and dangerous-looking hitman of the cartel.
Well, to my great surprise, all of the acting is quite solid, but of course, some acted better than others – Gibson & Moriarty were the stand-out performers (obviously) – but what I really appreciated and champion, is believable acting – Moriarty’s acting in the film (early on) is so believable, I genuinely felt sympathy for her character – a troubled teen in a sh*t situation, of which her only way of getting out is through something traumatic happening.
To my great admiration, Blood Father‘s visuals are not too glossy – I hate super-clear glossy visuals and overloads of CGI. And the head-shots of the film’s characters were done well, but what stood out for me were the viewpoint-esque shots and the shots during the latter scene when Gibson, on a motorbike, is engaging in gun-fire with cartel members. Ultimately, Blood Father is a well-produced film, despite its running time being under 90 minutes.
When watching an action-based film, one expects to be presented with a variation of conventions, of course, Blood Father is conventional in ways, but the quality of the conventions exceeds normality, therefore making the film better than expected.
Ultimately, I place Blood Father as a very decent action-based crime-thriller, with a bang-on Mel Gibson performance, but a role-type of which I can’t see Gibson doing again – he’s 60 and looks to be focused on directing films again, and if Blood Father is to be his last of this kind, then a job well done, Mel.
My final rating: A great under-90-min film for any action fan, especially fans of Gibson’s acting work in action cinema – get on it!