Blood Father Screen 8 articles

Blood Father


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    Sight & Sound: Vadim Rizov
    October 07, 2016 | November 2016 Issue (p. 68) | Critic's Rating: 2/5 (Letterboxd)

    Aided immensely by Benoît Debie's smoothly glossy cinematography, Gibson's previous star vehicle, 2012's Get the Gringo, leveraged his mania for guilty-pleasure entertainment. But Jean-François Richet's film is a far more slapdash effort, essentially consisting of a series of set pieces in which, after some preliminary narrative-development throat-clearing, one cheap set after another is destroyed.

  • It’s pretty clear early on that “Blood Father” will head toward a dramatic confrontation between John and the criminals on his tail, but once the movie gets there, the payoff is slight at best — a few well-timed shots can’t rescue a movie so formulaic that it barely requires a script.

  • A sturdy vehicle for Gibson, a shrewd act of capitalizing on the actor's off-screen embarrassments and controversies, which have nurtured his reputation as an abusive, bigoted rageaholic. Link might be assembled from stock parts, but Gibson has lost none of his ferocity as a performer.

  • Adapted from a novel by Peter Craig, who also co-wrote the screenplay, Blood Father trades in the kind of one-liners and asides that have always been its star’s forte (“They must have run out of bullets,” he says after a volley of assault rifle fire abruptly stops), while giving Link a believability and seriousness that doesn’t completely extend to his relationship with his daughter. In other words, it plays to Gibson’s established strengths.

  • A Gibson follower discovering that he stars in an action thriller called Blood Father might himself infer that Gibson is working his way out of purgatory via the Nicolas Cage route of hastily conceived and assembled shoot-em-up hackwork. I am pleased to report this is not actually the case. Clocking in at a fat-free 88 minutes, Blood Father is an efficient and pleasurable bad-man-tries-to-go-good exposition that gives Gibson ample opportunity to flex his now-somewhat-grizzled movie-star muscle.

  • Mr. Gibson makes a persuasive derelict John Wayne with a loose, energetic performance, finely tuned comic timing and an amused, self-aware Lethal Weapon glint. As the guns come out, that glint grows harder and Mr. Gibson’s body almost seems to as well, as if he were developing muscle as needed. It’s such a strong performance that in moments, despite Mr. Richet’s attention to detail — the shiny chrome, the desperados, the pretty sun-kissed color — the movie all but fades, leaving only Mr. Gibson.

  • Suitable sleazy exercise in catholic punishment with a committed performance from Mad Mel. Richet is pretty much a gun for hire on this and it lacks some of his more visual expressive ideas, but it has plenty of pulp energy and on choice moments his knack for savagery is in synch with Gibson’s, too bad there isn’t more of it.

  • The movie strikes just the right balance, tough but self-aware – and blessed with a sense of humour, right from the opening moments when Lydia buys cartons of bullets for Jonah and his gang (the clerk doesn’t bat an eye) but isn’t allowed to buy cigarettes without an ID. Gibson is the main attraction here, effortlessly shifting to movie-star mode when John briefly acts like a real dad.