Despite being very watchable, Blood Father is not a film that is particularly memorable. The characters in the film aren’t very sympathetic and their miseries feel largely brought upon themselves. The great achievement of the filmmakers, however, is their ability to still make viewers care. That’s because they show us that despite representing a very small subset of the human population. These characters still represent the humanity in everyone. And the ties that bind families together are the same ties that bind us all as human beings. If there’s a good reason to watch this film, then it’s to be reminded of that.
The fact is that Mel Gibson is still a terrifically charismatic presence who inhabits damaged, self-destructive rascals. Perhaps because that’s how he wants to be seen. “Every friend I ever had, every skill I ever had is now a parole violation,” says his character. John Link, to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting at his trailer park in his first scene. Link, initially seen wearing a long salt-and-pepper beard, is a former member of a biker gang who now works as a tattoo artist and lives across a dirt road from his sponsor, Kirby (William H. Macy).
He has turned his life around with the intention of making up for lost time with estranged daughter Lydia. Who calls him collect out of the blue begging for help. She’s on the run from seriously bad people, having shot her abusive boyfriend, a realtor with drug cartel connections. And so, as laws of narrative dictate, Link will have to help her by breaking the law, re-establishing his ties to assorted criminal elements, and generally doing all kinds of things he’s been forbidden to do, all while staying sober.
It’s easy to appreciate the movie as a minor throwback to the R-rated action films of the ’80s and early ’90s
Adapted from a novel by Peter Craig, who also co-wrote the screenplay. Blood Father (Bo Gia Sat Thu) trades in the kind of one-liners and asides that have always been its star’s forte. While giving Link a believability and seriousness that doesn’t completely extend to his relationship with his daughter. In other words, it plays to Gibson’s established strengths. With director Jean-François Richet remaining mostly anonymous. Apart from a monologue that allows the filmmaker to indulge his penchant for oversimplified radical outlaw rhetoric.
Without Gibson’s baggage, it’s easy to appreciate the movie (phim hanh dong chieu rap) as a minor throwback to the R-rated action films of the ’80s and early ’90s, which similarly mixed the very lurid and the very wholesome, even if the action scenes don’t live up to the genre’s heyday. But isn’t the fact that it’s Mel Gibson showing what’s up to mercenary white supremacists and in a welcome change from the troubled-hero norm—never straying from sobriety kind of the point?