Overview: Ex-con John Link protects his daughter from gangs of criminals. SND Films; 2016; Rated R; 88 minutes.
Dadcore: The latest in the long, ever-growing line of dadcore action movies, Blood Father sports classic B-movie grindhouse aesthetics. Where something like Non-Stop is a sleek, efficiently directed Hitchcockian action-thriller, Blood Father collects remnants of Mad Max and throws the character into a garden of grit and filth.
When John Link (Mel Gibson) finds daughter Lydia (Erin Moriarty) on his doorstep, embroiled in a criminal enterprise, the recovering ex-convict upends his lifestyle to face down the drug dealers seeking to do her harm.
Throwbacks and Schlock: The term “throwback” is tossed around these days for good reason. Nostalgia is a thriving trend. But what is often misconstrued in the vestige of a throwback nature is the attempt to mimic previous attempts. Blood Father doesn’t mimic; it simply follows the lead of grindhouse action movies, namely, Mad Max. That’s not a reference just for the star of the film, though much can be said for Mel Gibson’s acting chops. Directed by Jean-François Richet capitalizes on this by giving some semblance of humility to the world-weary badass.
If this all sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve probably seen at least one of the Taken movies or any of its ripoffs. The difference here is in the execution. You won’t find anything breathtaking or refreshing in Blood Father. What you will find is Mel Gibson reminding us why he used to be a movie star. He’s pretty good at this acting thing.
Like Blood Father, Like Blood Daughter: Inaudible grumbles and seething anger leave Gibson’s character John Link feeling like the bastard child of Gibson and Hardy’s Max Rockatansky. A feral energy capable of bursting out of his husky and hairy shell. It’s no small feat Gibson achieves here. He could easily phone this in and just carry himself on charisma. Instead he finds the truth in his performance. There’s nothing too deep in the script for the character, it’s mostly surface level machinations executed with precision, but Gibson imbues his protagonist with an embellished history.
The film could give Moriarty more to do given the circumstances but she holds her own. It’s a role that could be easily overacted but those who have seen Jessica Jones know she’s capable of giving layers of tragedy to a performance with minimal exposition. One can’t help but worry about the nature of typecasting in seeing her in similar roles. Hopefully she is given the opportunity to take on more complex roles in the future as she’s got the talent for it.
Forgive me, bloodfather, for I have sinned: To further the Mad Max comparisons, this is far more Mad Max than Road Warrior. Meaning there isn’t as much action as you’re expecting to see. It’s present but the focus is tighter on the father and daughter relationship than blowing up cars on a highway or tackling waves of henchman. When the action does kick off, it’s more satisfying. The finale lacks the oomph necessary to request your immediate watch on this. However, it may make a fun double-feature with the other Gibson genre fare from 2012 Get the Gringo. Gringo is far more efficient in terms of entertainment and an all-around better film. It’s all quite trashy (my, oh my, is it trashy), but the sort of trashy that comes with an appetite for junk food.
Overall: If you want to take a quick, trashy ride with Mel Gibson on a crusade to protect his daughter, kick up your feet, enjoy the solid gem that is Blood Father, and wash it down with a cold beer while getting inappropriately comfortable with a movie certain to find a home and a growing satisfied audience on Netflix.
Featured Image: SND Films