Mel Gibson continues down the comeback road with Blood Father, an excellent little down ‘n’ dirty action flick, based on the same-named novel by author/screenwriter Peter Craig (Sally Field‘s son), that shows that the former A-list actor hasn’t lost even a bit of the charisma and intensity that made him a star in the first place.
Gibson plays a recovering alcoholic and recently paroled ex-con living in a trailer park whose estranged daughter (Erin Moriarty) contacts him one day, scared and on the run from the members of a drug gang led by her boyfriend (Diego Luna), whom she shot. Soon after, they both find themselves on the run from the gang, and the law.
Admittedly, things start off somewhat generically, with Luna and his gang swearing every other word and Moriarty seeming out of her depth trying to act tough. The film turns interesting the instant we meet Gibson at an AA meeting, recounting his numerous misdeeds and regrets and celebrating being two years sober.
Indeed, Gibson’s the reason to see the film, so well does he inhabit his former-criminal role. He certainly resembles an ex-con, with his bushy beard and tattoos, and nails the tough-as-nails attitude and physicality — and rage — of one. At one point he seems to channel ol’ Mad Max himself as he screeches his motorcycle to a stop and brandishes a shotgun.
He’s even better during the quieter moments, wearing weariness and regret all over his nearly 60-year-old face, especially during a tremendous scene in which he apologizes to Moriarty for her life. Speaking of which, Moriarty eventually acquits herself well enough that as she comes to care more about her criminal father, the more we actually care about her.
Some supporting players also deserve praise, including William H. Macy as Gibson’s friend and AA sponsor, Miguel Sandoval as Gibson’s still-in-prison gang-leader pal, and, most especially, veteran actor Michael Parks as Gibson’s loathsome former mentor. Parks participates in the film’s best scene, letting Moriarty know in truly chilling fashion how he knows she’s in trouble. – [DVD]
DVD Release Date: 10/11/16