Blood Father stars Mel Gibson as John Link, an ex-convict who fights to protect his estranged daughter from the drug cartel that is hunting her down. In this thrilling action film, John must use his connections from his past life and his skills as an ex-criminal to keep him and his daughter alive.
I begin this review knowing that there are many of you (most of whom probably aren't even going to bother to read this) that will avoid seeing 'Blood Father' simply because it stars Mel Gibson. I also know that there's nothing I can say to change your mind about this, nor do I really have a right to ask you to. Gibson has made some horrible statements in the past that he's tried to apologize for. For many that's not enough, and at least one actor (Gary Oldman) was equally ostracized for a short period for trying to support the actor. I won't make the mistake of trying to defend Gibson in this review, but I also have to confess I enjoyed seeing him as the lead actor in a movie once again (his first starring role since 2012's Get The Gringo. Whatever he is (or isn't) in his personal life, Mel is a very talent actor and filmmaker, and he proves he's still got star power in 'Blood Father'.
Gibson stars as John Link, an ex-convict who is now making his living as a tattoo artist while residing in a beat-up trailer (shades of Lethal Weapon). His young daughter, Lydia (Erin Moriarty), has been missing since she was 14, but (now 17) makes a desperate phone call to her father after shooting her drug-dealing boyfriend (Diego Luna) after a violent incident gone wrong. She just wants enough money from her father to help her disappear, but he insists on taking her back in, hoping to get her off of her drug habit and help her out.
It isn't long before the drug cartel that Lydia's boyfriend was involved with comes looking for her, starting with shooting up Link's trailer in a hail of gunfire. This puts father and daughter on the run, as Link tries to find a way to protect them both, which includes tracking down an old friend and former ally (played by Michael Parks). Eventually, Link's hand is forced and the only way out of the situation is to face down the cartel members that have been stalking them, leading to the movie's explosive climax.
As films like this go, this is rather by-the-numbers stuff, elevated by a few plot twists and two very good performances by Gibson and Moriarty. What makes Gibson's part so interesting to watch is that it's not all that different from what the actor has been going through in real-life. There's a speech he gives (at an AA meeting) that introduces his character where he talks about all the mistakes he has made. Later on in the film, Link's daughter berates him for disliking Mexicans – another nod to some of the real-life bigotry Gibson has shown to different ethnic groups. I can't imagine the irony of these moments escaped either Gibson or the filmmakers, and seeing Mel take on these issues in a movie seemed very much like yet another attempt by the actor to make amends with his fans...and perhaps a few of his enemies.
'Blood Father' is a little too much of a standard action film for me to give it a higher recommendation. In fact, had Gibson not been in this movie, I might have been a little more dismissive of it. But Mel is really good here, and we see so little of him in movies these days that anyone willing to give him another shot will certainly want to check this film out. Whatever he is in his personal life, he's still one hell of a performer on the big screen.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Blood Father' arrives on Blu-ray in an eco-friendly Elite keepcase, which houses the 25GB Blu-ray along with an insert for an UltraViolet digital copy of the movie. A slipcover with artwork matching the keepcase's slick slides overtop. The Blu-ray is front-loaded with trailers for 'Hacksaw Ridge' (Gibson's latest directorial effort), Mechanic: Resurrection, Criminal, Hell or High Water, and The Expendables 3. The main menu contains a black and white image of star Mel Gibson on the right side of the screen followed by one of co-star Erin Moriarty, while footage from the film (also in black and white) plays on the left side of the screen. Menu selections are placed horizontally across the bottom of the screen.
The Blu-ray in this release is Region A locked.
'Blood Father' was shot digitally and is presented on Blu-ray in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The movie was filmed entirely in New Mexico, and takes advantage of the countryside – with imagery that leans very much towards all shades of brown throughout. Aside from some aliasing/stabilization shimmer that occurs in the movie's opening shot, there's virtually no glitches of which to speak. Details are amazing throughout – not just of the New Mexico landscape, but of every crease, line, and crinkle in Mel Gibson's aging facial features.
Black levels, while not quite inky deep, are strong enough that there are no issues making out things in darker scenes, and crush is kept to a minimum. Noise is almost never a problem either. Overall, this is a great-looking release from Lionsgate that should please viewers quite a bit.
The only audio option here is an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that is surprisingly good for a movie such as this one. The early portion of the movie doesn't give off the impression that the audio is going to deliver much, even with a brief action sequence that opens the film. However, when the bad guys let loose their ammo on Gibson's character's trailer, the lossless audio really comes to life.
If there's any complaints to be had about the sound here, it's that it may be a tad too aggressive. There's a noticeable level difference between the busy action sequences and the quieter dialogue moments. But other than that, there's no real glitches to speak of, dynamic range is relatively good, and everything is delivered with a crisp clarity.
Subtitles are available in English, English SDH, and Spanish.
'Blood Father' doesn't break any new ground in its genre, but it is nice to see Mel Gibson in a solid, character-driven movie again. The film may have not gotten enough publicity or attention to be considered a 'comeback' for the actor, but it's certainly a step in the right direction. While this title isn't quite good enough to recommend for purchase, it's definitely worth a look.