Blood Father: What You Need To Know
The road to rehabilitation has been a long one for Mel Gibson. At the height of his fame during the 1980s, the actor was one of Hollywood's highest-paid leading men, starring in franchises like Mad Max and Lethal Weapon before making a successful jump into the director's chair and winning an Academy Award for his work on Braveheart.
But even while Gibson's professional life was hitting new heights, controversy was never far away and despite the huge commercial success of another of his directorial efforts, The Passion of the Christ, the film drew criticism from groups like the Anti-Defamation League, who took issue with the story's depiction of the role of Jews in the crucifixion. To make matters worse, it was often Gibson's personal life that dominated the headlines, with a series of unsavoury, alcohol-fuelled incidents and comments rendering the actor-turned-director persona non grata in Hollywood during a period in which Gibson later described himself as having reached “the height of spiritual bankruptcy”.
Recently however, Gibson has been slowly and steadily rebuilding his career, featuring alongside the likes of Sylvester Stallone in The Expendables 3 and directing the war epic Hacksaw Ridge, currently enjoying favourable reviews from all quarters. Blood Father, which arrives in stores on Monday, represents only his third lead role lead role since his return to the screen in 2010's Edge of Darkness and, aptly enough, sees him take on the role of a recovering alcoholic trying to rebuild his life. Here's everything you need to know...
Who's in it?
Alongside Gibson is a small but talented cast that includes Erin Moriarty, Diego Luna, Michael Parks and William H. Macy.
And who's directing?
Behind the lens here is Frenchman Jean-François Richet, best-known to English-speaking audiences as the director behind Assault on Precinct 13, but also the man responsible for bringing the story of French underworld figure Jacques Mesrine to the big screen in Mesrine: Killer Instinct and Mesrine: Public Enemy #1.
What's the plot?
Gibson plays an ex-convict, former war veteran and recovering alcoholic named John Link, who is out on parole after serving seven years in prison and carving out a quiet, law-abiding life for himself in a sparsely populated trailer community, where he runs a tattoo parlour.
However, his plans for a peaceful existence are shattered when his estranged daughter Lydia - assumed up until this point to be missing - calls him out of the blue, having gotten herself mixed up with some Mexican gangsters, one of them being her boyfriend, Jonah (Luna).
Jonah had been leading a raid on the home of some tenants he believed had stolen money from the gang, stashing the money in the walls. But when Jonah ties one tenant up and orders Lydia to kill another, Lydia accidentally shoots Jonah in the neck.
Fleeing the crime scene and leaving Jonah for dead, Lydia call her father, who agrees to help and shelters her in his trailer, where he learns that she too is an alcoholic. What he doesn't know is that Lydia is receiving death threats from the other gang members and when they track her down there's an armed standoff between the gang and the trailer community, with Link getting help from his neighbour and sponsor Kirby (Macy).
The gang are successfully repelled, but Link knows they'll be back so is forced to seek help from an old friend, the leader of a motorcycle gang named Preacher (Parks) who owes him a favour. But Link soon finds out that loyalty isn't what it used to be and when it turns out that Jonah isn't quite as dead as Lydia thought, the ex-con and his daughter find themselves battling on two fronts.
Does it deliver?
Whatever your opinion of Mel Gibson, Blood Father shows that he is still an actor capable of carrying a film and his performance here is, it has to be said, pretty impressive. Jean-François Richet's film is fairly uncomplicated and isn't really anything new, but it does what it does effectively and is well worth a look if you fancy a me-against-it-all type adventure underpinned by a story of a man battling for redemption.