2 June 2017 | plpregent
Qualities make up for the flaws – good, gritty entertainment
Although Blood Father does not bring anything new to the table in terms of storytelling, it manages to provide decent entertainment by taking advantage of its filming locations, a good cast and somewhat interesting, although undeveloped, lead characters.
Link (Mel Gibson) is an ex-con turned tattoo artist and former alcoholic who lives a reasonably quiet life in a trailer park home. One day, he receives a phone call from his daughter, Lydia, who has gone missing for many years, and who's seeking help, as drug dealers and law enforcement are trying to track her down. Sounds familiar? It probably does. It's a very classic story, and make no mistake about it, this tale is quite typical of the genre. I would even go as far as to say that story-wise, this film is sub-par and plot development is almost nonexistent. Add an anticlimactic and abrupt ending, and an almost shameful use of pretty interesting supporting characters, one has to wonder what Blood Father really has to offer.
The answer is an overall pretty good time, despite its flaws, thanks to sympathetic characters, above-average dialogue for the genre, some gritty moments, very welcome touches of humor and great cinematography. Jean-François Richet, who directed the biographical films about Jacques Mesrine, does a pretty good job too.
Again, it's a shame to make such little use of Kirby (William H. Macy) and Preacher (Michael Parks), but their presence is appreciated while it lasts. The Sicario character's first appearance is blood chilling, but unfortunately, the character's mystique evaporates from lack of screen time and further significant appearances. Mel Gibson is perfect in his role and Erin Moriarty (Lydia) is pretty good as well. The chemistry between both characters is tangible, and the generational clash sub-theme is subtle, but interesting nonetheless. Moreover, there are a few sequences, such as the first scene at the store and the scene when Link and Lydia are in the back of a truck filled with illegal Mexican immigrants, where the film humorously takes aim at some absurdities, such as a minor buying boxes of ammo without being asked for her ID, but being denied a pack of cigarettes because she's underage, or Lydia countering her dad's argument that illegal Mexican immigrants are "stealing" fruit-picking jobs from white Americans.
While the film offers some nice set-pieces, as a sequence of events, Blood Father's script does not profit from the best possible dramatic continuity, and ultimately falls short on delivering any truly memorable moment whatsoever. In that regard, the writing feels very uneven, as it delivers in the dialogue department, but lacks truly interesting ideas or ingenuity story-wise.
That being said, its qualities are likely to draw you in for its hour and a half runtime, and should manage to entertain anyone who likes this type of flick.