Mel of a fine come­back

Rutherglen Reformer - - Reviews -

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

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