Mel Gibson’s screen performances post-meltdown(s) have been limited, but he seems at home here in Blood Father, a pleasantly average throwback thriller. Perhaps that’s because he plays an alcoholic who’s a little unconventionally-minded, if not unhinged, who at one point reveals an old-fashioned racist streak, one his daughter welcomely takes the piss out of him about.
Yep, the film knows its lead’s baggage, and its response can be construed as either a winking acknowledgement of it, or an attempt to soften Gibson’s vile real-life behaviour, recasting him as more of a cantankerous uncle who’s a bit un-PC at the dinner table. Whether you’re won over by Gibson depends on how receptive you are to this former charisma machine now looking more grizzled, but seemingly relishing the chance to growl swear words, comedically mutter away to himself, act all wide-eyed loco – and waste some scumbags.
That mix of action star, psycho, and comedian served him superbly in the past, and Blood Father shows he hasn’t lost the knack for it. Luckily, too, since his performance is really the only thing to distinguish the film from other C-grade actioners with its rote plot, merely functional action sequences and lack of compelling screen presences for Gibson to bounce off.
While his credentials as a director are unimpeachable (by the sound of it, bolstered further by the upcoming Hacksaw Ridge), Blood Father doesn’t do much to improve Gibson’s standing as an actor. Like many post-scandal figures, it can be hard to look past his documented anger, violence, misogyny and anti-semitism. But when he hits his stride here, it’ll take you back to a more mullet-friendly time, when the nickname Mad Mel had more to do with an Aussie post-apocalyptic trilogy than a sickening fall from grace.
‘Blood Father’ Movie Times