Toronto After Dark 2016 Review: Does BLOOD FATHER Mark The Return of Mel Gibson?
Jean-François Richet's Blood Father may be Mel Gibson's road to redemption
John Link (Mel Gibson) is living out his probation in a trailer park on a desolate park in California, running a tattoo parlour out of his trailer. Having recently served a multi year prison sentence he desperately tries to keep himself on the straight and narrow. However, one night he gets a phone call from his daughter, Lydia (Erin Moriarty), presumed missing to this point, desperate for his help to get her out of town. She has found herself caught up with members of a drug cartel and they are looking to kill her. To what lengths is Link willing to go to find his daughter and protect her?
When we first meet Link he is attending some support group. He speaks to the group about hurting people, chasing them away, and that some have not come back. It is eerily close and similar to the past few years of Gibson’s personal life you wonder if Gibson had not taken these words to heart as he prepared for this performance and offered these moments as a kind of confessional.
The screenplay and dialogue crackle like fireworks, giving us reason to seek out screenwriter Peter Craig’s novel which this film is based on. We presume the work done by he and Andrea Berloff in adapting his text to film is is done well because the dialogue is so excellent. It is work complimentary to any of Mamet’s efforts. The exchanges between Link and his daugher snap like lightening and levity despite her circumstances. Credit must be given to the work of veteran editor Steven Rosenblum for cutting those conversations into a comprehensible series of quick cuts.
Regarding Gibson. He is flat out terrific in this film. Call it a comeback. Call it a return to form. Call it what you want, but rarely has Gibson been better than he is in Blood Father. There are glimmers of Martin Riggs from his Lethal Weapon years, maybe it was the trailer, or that hint of crazy that is back in his eyes as car windows got blown out around him, whatever it is it comes through the cracks of his tough ex-con exterior.
His supporting cast does not do a shabby job either. The always reliable William H Macy and splendid character actor Michael Parks, men in Link’s life at opposite ends of the law, are at their best once again. Moriarty is great when she is sparring off verbally with her father.
Blood Father's action is succinct, to the point, and there is more than enough of it to satisfy any action fan. The World that Link had left behind was dangerous at every corner. Every where he and Lydia turn is fraught with danger and terror. This is not to say that Blood Father is an overly intense non-stop experience but this is the World that Link has to return to in order to save her. The action scenes in Blood Father are punctuation, not exposition. They are however a hell of an exclamation mark. Straight up, Blood Father is a great action film.
We may never be able to separate the professional life from the personal life but if Mel Gibson is ever to be in our favor again Blood Father may well be the movie that we will all look back on as that turning point.