Russell Baillie writes about movies for the Herald

Movie review: Blood Father

A bit like Mel Gibson, this movie is a bit of a throwback. This pulpy tale of daddy-daughter bonding in the face of drug lord death threats could have been made with Charles Bronson in the 1970s. Or any of The Expendables crew, whose merry band of has-beens Gibson joined for the 2014 instalment, in the 80s and 90s.

In the 2010s, though, it has something extra. That's the life-imitating-art resonance of Gibson playing ex-con John Link, a man trying to stay on the straight and narrow with the help of his AA sponsor and neighbour (William H. Macy).

Link lives in a Californian desert trailer park where he's set up in business as a tattooist, away from the temptations of town.

Mel Gibson returns in the film Blood Father.
Mel Gibson returns in the film Blood Father.

Yes, the recovering alcoholic character sure is a good redemptive fit for Gibson, disgraced celebrity. His forthcoming film as director, World War II movie Hacksaw Ridge looks like it will do much to restore his reputation.

This more modest B-movie, though, is about Gibson getting reacquainted with his long-lost daughter, Lydia, after she falls into some bad company. Some really bad company, led by her boyfriend, Jonah (Diego Luna), who she has a serious falling out with in the middle of a drug-money massacre.

Lydia (Erin Moriarty) seeks sanctuary with her father who finds the only way to fight back is to revive his old prison and biker gang connections.

French director Jean-Francois Richet, who did the 2005 remake of Assault on Precinct 13, is clearly a fan of Gibson's less troubled days, giving him time to turn on the grizzled charm that reminds of Lethal Weapon's Martin Riggs. Or later, do some very Mad Max things on a motorcycle.

Impressive too is Moriarty, who more than holds her own with Gibson.

Mel Gibson returns in the film Blood Father.
Mel Gibson returns in the film Blood Father.

The film is better in the first half when the characters are still getting to know each other and Link is figuring a way out of the mess his offspring has got herself into.

Once the serious shooting starts and the sentimentality previously held at bay begins splattering everywhere, Blood Father heads towards an anaemic finish. But it offers plenty of pulp excitement along the way.

Cast: Mel Gibson, Erin Moriarty, William H. Macy
Director: Jean-Francois Richet
Rating: R16 (violence, offensive language, drug use)
Running time: 88 mins
Verdict: Mel Gibson in fine form in a white trash spin on Taken.

- Weekend magazine

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