Holy shit; Mel Gibson still makes films? Blood Father sees Gibson return to (somewhat) fine form, as a vengeful father determined to protect his daughter at all costs. Whilst him as a character shines on the screen, the rest of the plot fizzles out in the background and ultimately makes it a forgettable action piece.
John (Gibson) is an ex-convict, living on parole in a middle of nowhere trailer type park. Whilst making a living as a tattoo artist for its residents, he receives a call from his daughter Lydia (Erin Moriarty), who is terrified and desperate for help. After being missing for 14 years, Lydia has wandered into the dangerous world of drug cartels and a recent botched operation sees her on the run for her life. It’s up to John and his vast number of associates, to determine how to avoid returning to prison but also safeguard his daughter from the oncoming sicarios destined to kill her.
Even though the runtime of this film was set at only 88 minutes, it felt like a lifetime watching it. This stems from the fact that whilst set as an action film, we don’t witness as much as action as you want. Instead of receiving Mel Gibson tearing apart people left right and center, what we get is a lackluster look at the relationships between him and his daughter, as well as his forgettable interactions with his numerous associates. This could work normally hadn’t it been for the fact that they were so uninteresting to watch. Erin Moriarty (The Watch, Captain Fantastic) is fantastically terrible to see on screen as she portrays Lydia in one of the most unconvincing and laughable ways possible. Every sentence and action was said in a way that either didn’t make sense for her character or was set out to be not taken seriously. If there was a category for worst performance that I’ve seen this year, it, unfortunately, goes to her.
Where the film thankfully shines is in the charm and charisma Mel Gibson is able to bring. I genuinely loved seeing him on the screen each time and it goes to show why he has become a household name in Australian cinema. He can simultaneously bring a threatening sense of grittiness and mean valor one second but also be able to make you laugh the next. Unfortunately, these moments are sparse and few. Rather having the story focused more on himself, which is far more interesting, the story wants us to appreciate the relationship he develops with his daughter. Admirable but sadly the annoyance of seeing Moriarty pop up throughout, drastically made this affair annoying to watch. If this had been Mad Max coming out of retirement and going commando style like Schwarzenegger famously set out, this film would have been great.
Ultimately if there’s one aspect to take away from seeing Blood Father, it’s to appreciate how much Mel Gibson can bring to the table of any film. Had it not been for him, I doubt I would have rated this film as highly as I did. Director Jean-François Richet has some little ways to go in terms of not only choosing his casting options better but also in incorporating more and better action set pieces. Hopefully, Gibson returns soon to a sharpened action film he so heartedly deserves and one we all want him to be in.