Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Film Review: Blood Father (2016)

Blood Father (Review)
France/2016
Format Viewed For Review: VUDU
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a short and effective thriller that packs a few heavy punches."

John Link (Mel Gibson) reunites with his daughter, Lydia (Erin Moriarty), in order to protect her from a gang of vengeful drug dealers...

Blood Father is yet another simple film. (I've review quite a few of those recently.) The film follows John Link, a grizzled and hardened ex-convict living the sober life, and his 17-year-old daughter, Lydia, a drug-addicted runaway who brings hell to her father's door. That's essentially the plot, too. Lydia shoots a drug dealer, which causes the drug dealers to pursue her, so she runs to her father. Being the incredibly patient father he is, John Link vows to protect his daughter by any means necessary. And so, the pair are chased by thugs. That's about it, really. There are some ties to Mexican drug cartels, but nothing really groundbreaking in terms of plot. It's not bad, though. It leads to a decent but predictable ending, too.


Blood Father is a very good movie. It's not an action-packed thriller, but it has plenty of action and thrills. Many of the scenes are filled with suspense, keeping you at the edge-of-your-seat for a bulk of the movie. Some big blockbuster actions films can't even deliver thrills like these. Hell, there's even a bit of sincere emotion here. At times, Blood Father function very well as a down-to-earth drama. By that, I mean: it doesn't sugarcoat anything. The film isn't very long, but the simplicity of the plot and the generally tight script work well with the runtime. However, the film does suffer a bit from one annoyance... Lydia!

Okay, let me preface this rant by saying I didn't absolutely hate this character. She just wasn't very interesting or compelling, which is something you'd think filmmakers would want for a film like this, right? You want to root for these characters, you don't want to see them lose. Unfortunately, every time Lydia shines as an interesting character, she's immediately brought down by her incredibly annoying characteristics and sheer stupidity – to be blunt. I mean, her character often works as nothing more than a walking plot contrivance. Here's an example of her questionable intelligence: after being hunted by a sicario, there's a scene where she comes up with a 'brilliant' plan where she intends on moving to Tijuana and living there. Really? A sicario just tried to kill you and you're going to move closer to your pursuers? There are times when Lydia shines, but her character just fumbles far too much. In turn, this whole father-daughter crusade feels a bit like a sham. It's like watching your best friend being exploited by a significant other and you can't say anything.

Mel Gibson is great in this role, though. He delivers his performance with passion and conviction. He has that hardened 'badass' aura to him. I just ranted about Erin Moriarty's character, but I can't blame the actress for that. Moriarty performs well and she shares some great scenes with Gibson. The supporting cast was also strong. This isn't a big-budget blockbuster, but it still looked and sounded great. The film was directed by Jean-Fran├žois Richet and written by Peter Craig and Andrea Berloff. Again, aside from some character issues, the film was fine. The direction was focused and effective, creating a well-packaged thriller without any significant issues. The story doesn't break ground, but it works well enough – every story doesn't have to be the next big thing, right?

Overall, I really enjoyed Blood Father. It could have been a bit more effective with some more honed characters, perhaps a longer runtime to really develop the situation, but it works for what it is - and it
works very well. It's a short and effective thriller that packs a few heavy punches. Mel Gibson also delivers a great performance. If you're looking for a break from the special effects-riddled blockbusters, check this one out.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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