Director: Jean-Francois Richet (Assault on Precint 13)
Synopsis: Ex-con and recovering alcoholic John (Mel Gibson) lives on a trailer park alongside his sponsor (William H Macy). He finds his world turned upside down when he receives a panicked phone call from his equally troubled (and estranged) daughter Lydia (Erin Moriarty) who has shot her boyfriend; cartel mobster Jonah (Diego Luna). Violating his parole turns out to be the least of his worries as the pair find themselves on the run from sicarios, the police, and shady characters from John's past; but it might also be the last best chance for father and daughter to bond...
Performances: A welcome return to form (and to our screens) for Mel Gibson in a role that recalls the crazy-eyed intensity of Martin Riggs with the world-weary saavy of Payback's Porter. Gibson commands the screen at all times and is the strongest element of the film. Film newcomer Erin Moriarty does a reasonable job of holding her own alongside the heavyweights (as well as being very easy on the eye); and there's some decent support from the likes of Michael Parks, Dale Dickey and Macy. Make no mistake though: this is Gibson's film.
What works: The story might be simple, but the script is refreshingly authentic and the interplay between Gibson and Macy is sharp and snappy. So too is the interaction between Gibson and Moriarty as father & daughter; which manages to avoid the usual cliches of overstated contrition and lamenting the past. The bond between them is absolutely two-way. The action, when it comes, is also punchy, violent and satisfying in the best revenge-movie tradition.
What doesn't: The pacing is a little uneven especially in the second act, and pure-action fans might be left wanting. Moritary is fine but one can't help feeling it needed a more accomplished actress to play opposite Gibson's powerhouse.
Summary: Blood Father doesn't offer much in the way of originality, but it occupies a decent middle ground between action B-movie and gritty family drama. While it excels in neither department, the superb performance by Mel Gibson carries it and (hopefully) promises even better things to come from the veteran actor.
See it if you liked: Taken, Lethal Weapon, The Last Stand