Fam­ily val­ues and ul­tra vi­o­lence

Mel Gib­son chan­nels an older, wounded ver­sion if his ‘Lethal Weapon’ in this high­oc­tane, ul­tra-vi­o­lent ac­tion film, writes Tara Brady

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS -

You have to love a movie that opens with a teenage girl stock­ing up on bub­ble-gum and box af­ter box of 9mm ammo, only for the cashier to balk when the ado­les­cent at­tempts to buy cig­a­rettes with­out ID.

It’s a nicely crafted mo­ment. Yet one can’t help but do a dou­ble take when the phrase “Based on a novel by Peter Craig” ap­pears dur­ing the end cred­its of Blood Fa­ther. A credit read­ing “Based on the po­etry of TS Eliot” or “In­spired by the pop­u­lar break­fast ce­real” would not look any more im­plau­si­ble in the cir­cum­stances. It just seems so un­likely that this Mel Gib­son ac­tioner could ex­ist in any other medium or form.

Jean-François Richet, the de­pend­able direc­tor be­hind As­sault on Precinct 13 (2005) and Mes­rine (2008), makes the very best of Gib­son’s im­pec­ca­ble comic tim­ing and craggy fea­tures. This could eas­ily be an older, wounded ver­sion of the young gun­slinger we watched in the Lethal Weapon se­quence, and, in com­mon with those movies, Blood Fa­ther mar­ries ul­tra-vi­o­lence and fam­ily

val­ues, as a daddy and daugh­ter duo hit the road.

The tit­u­lar pa­tri­arch is John Link (Gib­son), a lately re­formed al­co­holic and ex-con, who lives life one day at a time cour­tesy of his spon­sor (Wil­liam H Macy). As the film opens, Link works as a tat­too artist in the re­mote trailer park where he lives; he has not seen his daugh­ter Ly­dia in years, save “on the side of a milk car­ton”.

When Ly­dia (Cap­tain Fan­tas­tic’s Erin Mo­ri­arty, in won­der­ful form) does show up, fresh from a hit of metham­phetamine and gun­play gone wrong, she has fallen in with a very bad crowd in­deed. The re­united and mis­matched fam­ily unit take to the road to find out more about Ly­dia’s boyfriend Jonah (Diego Luna), and to stay one step ahead of his mur­der­ous gang.

Out on the road Gib­son and Mo­ri­arty trade en­ter­tain­ing one-lin­ers and run in to such wel­come sup­port­ing play­ers as Miguel San­doval and Michael Parks. A fi­nal stand-off re­quires one too many con­trivances – Link knows a guy, then Link knows an­other guy – but Blood Fa­ther boasts enough mo­men­tum and lively ban­ter to com­pen­sate for any generic lean­ings. Robert Gantz’ scorched cin­e­matog­ra­phy keeps the heat on, even dur­ing qui­eter mo­ments.

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Mel Gib­son in Blood Fa­ther

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