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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | November 29, 2021

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Mel Gibson returns to film with 'Blood Father'

Mel Gibson returns to film with ‘Blood Father’

| On 17, Aug 2016

In his first film since 2014, Mel Gibson hits cinemas next month with action-thriller Blood Father, setting in motion what might be a comeback to film that sticks.

Directed by Jean-François Richet, Blood Father follows Gibson’s character, Link, an ex-con who is reunited with his estranged daughter, Lydia (Erin Moriarty), when she becomes the target of a group of drug dealers. Catapulting him back into the life he’s been struggling to leave behind, Link is set on a mission to protect his daughter while battling with his own troubles of his past.

Blood Father delivers what you expect and desire when you sit down for an action film. From the bad guys and the cross-country chase to the gritty, one-man-army protagonist. It’s a fun and exciting watch, and a fresh diversion from the blockbuster action’s dominating the screen today.

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However while Blood Father is an entertaining watch, there’s something about the way Gibson plays his character that doesn’t quite seem to stick. Which is particularly odd, as Gibson has gifted the action genre with numerous unforgettable portrayals in his time and is far from a mediocre actor. While his portrayal of Link is believable, at times it becomes difficult to see anyone but Gibson onscreen.

The film covers topics such as alcoholism and racism in a way that reads as an attempt at a self-reflective star text, acting as a commentary on issues that have plagued Gibson’s career in past years, and almost seeking redemption and forgiveness from the audience through a meta plot. Perhaps this was an intentional aspect of Gibson’s decision to return to cinemas as Link, perhaps not.

At the end of the day, Gibson still delivers an engaging performance. His charismatic presence when immersed in the action genre is still there, and he balances the comedy of Link’s grizzly moods with the seriousness of the situation in an admirable enactment. Peter Craig, writer of the novel that inspired the film and co-writer of the screenplay, provides Gibson a script that plays to the actor’s strengths to deliver a believable character.

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Despite an intriguing hook and a talented cast, the film falters when it comes to detail. In his efforts to maintain a rapid pace, director Jean-François Richet fails to pay enough attention to scene setting and establishment of character, which leads to a somewhat undercooked plot. The father-daughter duo are followed with astonishing accuracy that isn’t explained and the reasoning for Link’s deep knowledge when it comes to the ins-and-outs of Mexican gangs is weak at best. However it would be a lie to say that these aspects are what brings a crowd to an action film. Blood Father entertains where it matters. An action sequence in a trailer park early in the film is grippingly intense, and there comes an extra thrill in simply seeing Gibson return to action all together.

While Blood Father is no immediate-classic, it is a welcome throwback to the action films of the 80’s; complete with an old-school chase that keeps you entertained and invested from start to finish.

Blood Father hits Australian cinemas September 1st. 

Image Credit: Why Not Productions / Wild Bunch