Mel of a fine comeback
There was a time when Mel Gibson was one of the most popular and marketable leading men on the planet – and then came his infamous 2006 arrest for suspected drinkdriving and hurling anti-Semitic abuse to a policeman.
His attempts at career resurrection since have seen him make just five cinematic appearances amid an understandable lack of trust from audiences, studios and directors.
But they say time heals all wounds and the 60-year-old leaps back into the limelight in this Taken-style ‘geriactioner’ from French director Jean-François Richet.
Gibson stars as ex-con Link who is reunited with his teenage daughter Lydia (Erin Moriarty) after she is targeted by drug dealers led by Diego Luna’s crazed Jonah.
Richet is no stranger to hard-boiled actionthrillers having helmed Mesrine Parts 1 and 2 and the Assault on Precinct 13 remake and Peter Craig adapts his own novel – along with co-writer Andrea Berloff (Straight Outta Compton) – of the same name.
Sound footing behind the camera, then, and for the most part this western-type tale of redemption, revenge and showdowns works better than most of the ‘father protecting his daughter’ flicks Taken has spawned over the last few years.
Taking cues from its western inspiration, Richet shoots using a dusty colour palette surrounded by sand with bright sun beating down on his characters through the majority of his scenes.
Craig and Berloff’s screenplay takes the time to form bonds and flesh out relationships, but the film is light on action as a result.
There’s a nice nod to Gibson’s Lethal Weapon past when Link’s trailer home is blown to bits by gun-toting thugs and the rocky desert-set finale sees Link put his fists and teeth to good use, along with his skills with dynamite and pistols.
Without regular physical collisions, though, a lot falls on Gibson’s troubled shoulders to carry the film – and much of what we see Link go through acts as a chance for Gibson himself to ‘confess his sins’.
The first time we see Link he’s at an AA meeting baring his soul and he later dismisses his former Nazi-sympathising mentor.
Bushy-bearded for the majority of the movie, Gibson is a fiery, grizzled and hardened presence in his best turn since 2002’s We Were Soldiers.
Moriarty gives her all with a performance that’s equal parts sassy and vulnerable, but tests your patience so much at times you almost will Link to just give up on her.
Luna, meanwhile, is far from the most intimidating antagonist and William H. Macy’s (Kirby) talents are underutilised.
But despite its flaws, Blood Father is best summed up by its closing scene – mature and powerful, with a personal touch.
He’s back Gibson returns to the limelight in thriller Blood Father