Directed by Jean-François Richet
John Link (Mel Gibson) is a recovering alcoholic and former criminal just trying to keep his head above water and his butt out of jail. He hasn’t seen his daughter Lydia (Erin Moriarty) in years. One day out of the blue he gets a call from her. She’s seeking money so she can disappear. As she slowly sobers up, she reveals that she killed her boyfriend Jonah (Diego Luna) and is now on the run from his criminal henchmen. Now John Link must protect her.
Mel Gibson is a fine actor. Whatever his issues are that still doesn’t take away from his acting ability. You feel the pain and regret of John Link in Gibson’s performance. Link is genuinely regretful about the decisions in his life that have kept him not only separated from his daughter but have left him with nothing. Mel Gibson is a fine actor. Given his troubles and how the character he plays is presented, I’m curious how much of this was Gibson and how much of this was the character he created.
Erin Moriarty gives Lydia a lot more depth than I would’ve expected in this type of movie. What could have been a young actress being just a damsel in distress for her dad was in fact a young actress giving us a lost and broken young woman who apparently never got the love or attention that she wanted at home because her father was in jail and her mother cared more about marrying stepfathers than in raising a daughter. Lydia’s decisions felt logical in the world that was created.
Jonah (Diego Luna) is not that well defined but he does not have to be. The focus of the film is Lydia and John and their relationship or lack thereof along with their individual problems. Even so, his character of Jonah is intimidating and a genuine threat to the others in the film.
The violence is not made to look slick. It’s meant to look jarring if anything else. You tend to go “Holy crap!” when you see something. These are not warriors charging into combat against each other. These are not noble individuals. These are violent people trying to take the other out of commission. What happens with John Link’s home is an example of what I’m talking about. What happens to the character of Kirby-John’s ‘s AA sponsor (William H. Macy) is what I’m talking about. They are not slick scenes. They are just jarring.
Link worked for a racist gang leader known as Preacher (the late Michael Parks). Link took the fall for Preacher and that is what landed him in jail. It’s almost a given in movies like this is that the buddies of the past will help the central character but that doesn’t happen. They flip it here and that’s probably as much to give John some redemption as it is perhaps to rehab Mel Gibson a little bit.
There are no easy answers or truly happy endings in this movie. The one thing I find the most interesting is that this movie doesn’t end on a happy note. The character of John Link does not survive and get some kind of happily ever after with his daughter. He just keeps her alive long enough. He saves her. He finally does something good with his life. Maybe that can be considered a happy ending after all.
Blood Father is just such a great movie. It’s gritty. It’s a bit bleak. And it still manages to have some heart and genuine emotion. This is a really good movie that deserves more attention. It’s a great story and a very solid action film but most importantly it’s about the characters and it has heart. You need to check this out.