Following several years in the media wilderness, Mel Gibson and his hopes for a mainstream comeback got a major boost this week with the superlatively positive reception to his new film as director, the true World War II story Hacksaw Ridge.
The comeback talk coincides with the New Zealand cinematic release of his latest film as an actor, the lean and mean action thriller Blood Father.
Could Gibson's period of pop culture penance may be finally coming to an end? Are audiences ready to embrace him again?
I certainly hope so - Hacksaw Ridge and Blood Father both reaffirm that Gibson still has plenty to offer the world of cinema. The unpleasantness that led to his Hollywood exile was undoubtedly unpleasant, but it feels like he should be allowed to come in from the cold now. It's been long enough. Everyone deserves a fourth chance.
The critical showing for Hacksaw Ridge points to Gibson's greatest strength, which remains as-yet relatively untapped - that as a director.
It's unfathomable that his last film as director, the 2006 masterpiece Apocalypto, didn't end up on that recent BBC list of the 100 best films since 2000. That, more than anything, suggests that emnity for the filmmaker remains within the critical community. But perhaps Hacksaw Ridge will change all that. And hopefully lead to a rate of more than one directing job per decade.
In Blood Father, Mel Gibson plays Link, a character that is almost too evocative of his real-life pariah status - he's a grizzled old recovering alcoholic ex-con weighed down by past sins and having failed his lost daughter.
Plus he's a tattooist, which can't help but recall the cameo role Gibson was meant to play in The Hangover Part II, but didn't due to the protestations of co-star Zach Galifiakanis.
It's all so on-the-nose that it shouldn't work - but it does, mainly thanks to Gibbo's good old fashioned, undiluted star power, which now comes with a bulging neck and an undercurrent of simmering rage that boils over more than once.
These elements are welcome in a cinematic era considerably lacking in tough guys with character. Mel has basically entered his Charles Bronson phase. And it's a good thing.
He's much better in in Blood Father than he was playing novelty villain roles in both Machete Kills and The Expendables 3.
French director Jean-François Richet (Mesrine: Parts 1 & 2, One Wild Moment) demonstrates a flair for illuminating the poetry in the dust of low-level pulp. The predominant dynamic of the film - an ex-biker on the run from cartel killers with his estranged teenage daughter - has a lot of potential for cheese, but Blood Father delivers the goods as a no-nonsense, bad-ass old school action movie. It's like a grittier version of Bird on a Wire, motel scene and all.
There are numerous ways in which Gibson feels like a man out of time, and the collective media is now an even more sensitive place than it was when his string of scandals sent him into exile. But as much as Hollywood took an active stand against Gibson back when he was bottoming out, we know how much it loves a comeback.
Plus there's definitely room in this world for a filmmaker willing to call Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice a "piece of s**t".