Many of the big action films this year (I suppose you even go so far as to say the last decade) are very mixed in their interpretation and vision on how to excite an audience with big explosions and heart pounding gun fights. But no matter the directors vision or originality, action films always will have and continue to have one key trope that can take the easy path to a green-lit production, star power. A big name is a big thing. It can be used as a marketing tool or to use as a reminder to distributors to pay attention. With Blood Father, director Jean-François Richet decided to ditch Vincent Cassel whom he has worked with on a number of films and swap him for Mel Gibson.
If you have seen the marketing campaign for this film, it should be pretty obvious that this film was made so that Mel Gibson could make a big comeback to star in wider released films. So does he pull it off? Yes, almost certainly. He fits perfectly with the character he portrays (John Link) because the character has gone through things in life that Mel Gibson has also gone through and when you have parallels with character and actor they can give a realistic performance because of the experience of dealing with certain issues.
It’s also good not to see a typical ‘I will do anything to protect you’ father figure. His character realises that his daughter Lydia (played by Erin Moriarty) has messed up in a bad way and he interacts with his daughter both with a caring and realist attitude in the sense that Lydia has made a decision now she has to accept the consequences. With the consequences being a cartel is after her.
I found Lydia’s drug-dealing boyfriend played by Diego Luna to be very intimidating for the amount of screen time he gets; you know instantly from the introduction of the film that this is a man you don’t want to be on the wrong side off. The cartel as a whole relays that even further because there are scenes where you think they’ve finished causing chaos, but they just keep on coming back for more.
As this is an action film I have to talk about the action scenes which were surprisingly kept to a minimal. If you walk into this film expecting a lot of gunfire and car chases you’d be wrong. This is not a heavy action film; this is a road to recovery story that comes to a halt when it hits the fan. But while action is kept short, it is still entertaining to see but by an action film standpoint not all that special.
While I found the father-daughter relationship between John and Lydia both pleasing and uncommon, Lydia’s character was just too whiny. Almost every scene she is in, her character is not taking her predicament seriously. It seems that she completely forgets that there is a dangerous cartel after her and continues as if her life hasn’t been turned upside down. She is even laughing in some scenes and I was sat thinking if I had a cartel after me, I would be extremely paranoid all the time.
Onto the filmmaking aspect, this film is shot and edited in a very sloppy way. I had to count how many times the camera would zoom into the actor’s face during a scene with makes the shot very on edge when the scene doesn’t need to meet those demands. There is nothing that stands out to me as an amazing shot in this film it seems very pieced together it was a very ‘point and shoot’ style of cinematography which feels very lazy and done on the fly.
Even the editing doesn’t serve this film justice. There are examples of cutaway shots to a character reacting or an item being picked up that serve no purpose to the progression of the narrative, which is a shame because if you are focusing on the narrative that is being backed by constructing a father-daughter relationship, every item the characters use must have the purpose to progress the narrative in order to guide these two to a better relationship.
Speaking of narrative, I’m pretty certain that the cartel gave up their search for the majority of the film, which probably gives Lydia all the more reason to feel relaxed. The film presents us with the driving point of the narrative then it must have started to lose itself by the time John and Lydia are on the run.
The conclusion to this film is a bit of a letdown, it attempts to do something that many films don’t have the guts to do and I would applaud Jean-François Richet for having the creative courage of attempting such a route, but because the scenes can’t top one another in terms of audience interest in the story, the ending is very anti climatic and doesn’t have the impact that it should have.
To summarise, I have a strong feeling that Blood Father will just be passed off as another action film that happened this year and become very forgettable. Mel Gibson’s performance however, not so undistinguished. This film is supposed to reboot Mel Gibson’s career as a well-respected actor and get him back in the spotlight, this is a first step well taken but I have to be reminded that there are many, many more steps to come.
Final Result: 5/10 – Average
Have you seen Blood Father? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: Inferno