To suggest that Mel Gibson is back would be to suggest that he went somewhere. Sure, he’s had his off camera difficulties which have resulted in public opinion landing on the other side of positive when his name is brought into conversation. But Gibson has continued to work and has appeared in six films since 2010.
Whatever your feelings towards the actor who has had audio tapes of his rage plastered all over the tabloids in recent past are on the positive or on the side of decency, it should not deter you from enjoying the actor when he gives a worthy performance. And Blood Father is just that performance.
Directed by (Assault on Precinct 13), Blood Father gives the 1980’s heartthrob the role of a chiseled father of a runaway daughter. Gibson plays Link, a recovering alcoholic and parolee who spends his time in a trailer park tattooing individuals you would hate to run into down a dark city alley.
Link has spent the better part of days outside of prison yearning for communication from his young daughter Lydia (Erin Moriarty) who has gone missing. After having run away from the home provided by Link’s estranged wife, Lydia has taken up with some violent and desperate individuals, one of which is her boyfriend (Diego Luna) that she shoots during a botched home invasion. That puts Lydia on the run from the Mexican gangs associated with her boyfriend and she finds refuge in the care of her father whom she has not had contact in years.
Link is no stranger to the types of people Lydia has found herself involved. But he’s not quick to attest his daughter as an innocent bystander. Link refers to Lydia as someone with “a mindset of a battered housewife” and “every losers lucky day”. Link understands having to lie in the bed that one’s made but blood is blood and he will risk breaking his parole in any attempt to secure his daughter’s safety.
Blood Father is exactly the kind of film that Gibson needs to get him back on the front pages for all the right reasons. We are reminded early how good of an actor Gibson is behind the rants. His face looks weathered – after all, he’s now 60 – but through the tough skin and grey hairs, Gibson shines in a role that requires him to play a tough man, a father, a friend to many and a man to be feared.
William H. Macy shows up in a supporting role as Link’s sponsor and fellow trailer park neighbor, but this is clearly Gibson’s show.
The action is executed with muted precision. This is no Lethal Weapon but there was at least one scene that had us thinking back to Gibson’s Mad Max days. And there are also hints of political viewpoints in both immigration (Mexicans are taking our jobs) and gun rights (Lydia can’t buy cigarettes without ID but can purchase countless rounds of ammunition).
Blood Father screened at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival this week-end and the chatter after the film from the packed house was a unanimous positive. Here is hoping that Gibson gets more meaty roles like this on his route back to respectability.