Sunday, August 28, 2016

Blood Father

   I was holding off on reviewing stuff like this because I really wanted to dig into more animated DC stuff, but cest la vie. Here we are. Mel's back, baby! I mean, it's not like he's been gone that long, or even long at all, considering he's made a movie almost every year since 2010, with the sole exception of 2015. And, with the exception of Get the Gringo, none of those other movies... really did anything for me. But this is Old Testament Mel! This is lean, mean, gritty, Payback Mel Gibson. Blood Father has enough rage and emotion for two movies, but this one will have to do.

   It's not exactly what I expected from the trailers, but in the ways that matter most, it absolutely is. It's a bit slower than I thought it would be, but that's not a problem because a good revenge thriller needs solid characters in order to function properly. This isn't cathartic on the level of Django Unchained, or even as brutal as Payback, but it feels like the distant bastard son of a hundred angry Lethal Weapon sequels. Mel in this movie might as well be playing an embittered Martin Riggs years after Roger has passed away. Only, obviously, he's not.

  Gibson plays an ex-con named John Link who while being pissy about his live, being sober, and living in a trashy trailer park, gets contacted by his estranged and just-as-messed-up daughter who is currently on the run from some nasty folks. Which is a massive understatement on my part. Of course, Link just wants to help, but it sucks him into a world of trouble when he realizes the bad business his daughter got mixed up in was big bad business. The usual stuff you'd expect ensues, and Blood Father doesn't deliver anything you absolutely haven't seen before, but it does what it does really well.

   More importantly perhaps, it serves as a glowing resume for Mel if he ever got the burning desire to play Old Man Logan in a Wolverine movie. Who could say no to him after a movie like this? He's positively electric. Unleashing some old school growing and yelling the likes of which actors simply don't do anymore. The movie is a lot of fun to watch, due in no small part to the snappy writing and the budding dynamic between Link and his daughter, Lydia, played by Erin Moriarty. There's also a fun supporting character to be had in Link's friend and sobriety sponsor, played by William H. Macy. If the movie is direly lacking anything, it's a classic villain.

   It has some pretty decent bad guys in here, but nobody with enough gravitas to match Mel's. There's no Mr. Joshua to his Martin Riggs here. No Humungus to his mad Max. There's Jonah, the main villain, who's kind of just... bratty dejected drug cartel royalty. He's young and dumb, and it's sad that this character is a lynch pin of the story, but then there's a cartel hitman, a sicario, and he's scary. But it's the kind of role that Danny Trejo was born to play, and by god he should've been cast. The sicario's presence in the movie is felt, but he's just a henchmen really. There's no biblical bad guy here. Mel's wrath isn't matched in equal yet opposite proportions.

   As such, he feels like a big leaguer in a little league tale. This story could've been bigger, nastier, bloodier. I'm not saying it wasn't pretty great as is, but it just feels a tad too small. And as cathartic as it was, (spoilers ahead) the heroic bloodshed route probably wasn't the best route to take. (end spoilers) I mean, I get it. But, I don't like it. I never liked endings like that, and it left the movie feeling a bit flat in the end. Nevertheless if you like seeing Mel Gibson awkwardly yell, ragefully yell, slam stuff, shoot people, and growl when he talks, this is the movie for you. I liked it a lot, personally.

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