If you can separate the art from the artist — as most of us do at some point, or there’d be almost no movies or plays or novels or music or paintings left to enjoy — it’s a stone-cold gas.
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A serviceable piece of B-movie entertainment without an ounce of originality
The film shrewdly capitalizes on Mel Gibson's off-screen embarrassments and controversies.
Blood Father, directed by Jean-François Richet (Mesrine, Assault on Precinct 13), works remarkably well as a grindhouse throwback, sporting a screenplay (from Peter Craig and Andrea Berloff, based on Craig’s novel) that’s better than it has any right to be.
By no means a great piece of filmmaking, Blood Father nevertheless recaptures some of the rough attitude of Gibson's "Mad Max" days, as he shoots, growls and head-butts through a routine tale of angry drug lords.
Without Gibson’s baggage, it’s easy to appreciate the movie as a minor throwback to the R-rated action films of the ’80s and early ’90s, which similarly mixed the very lurid and the very wholesome, even if the action scenes don’t live up to the genre’s heyday.
Operating for much of its running time with an equal balance between guilty pleasure grittiness and decent father/daughter drama, the film’s conclusion tips toward the latter in an unconvincing shift toward sentimentality and Life Lessons that not only is out of place, but betrays John’s own code of stoic endurance.
As comeback projects go, Blood Father is stellar. It’s a wonder Quentin Tarantino, the king of career resurrection, didn’t get to Gibson first. The actors completely tears into the role of Link, a battered and disgruntled ex-con. Richet matches him, delivering a muscular and deliriously entertaining B-movie that is sure to play like gangbusters with genre aficionados.
Blood Father is trash, but it does capture what an accomplished and winning actor Mel Gibson can be. Just because he lost his bearings, and his career, doesn’t mean that he lost his talent.
The fading, erstwhile disgraced star’s grizzled, weary urgency gives this story some gusto and resonance, but otherwise, Mesrine director Jean-François Richet delivers adequate B-movie excitement only in spurts.