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MEL GIBSON never left in my book, so I won’t pull what everybody is pulling and say “Mel is back”. As an actor he shined in the 2012 "actionner" GET THE GRINGO (WATCH IT HERE) and the recently released trailer for his latest directorial effort HACKSAW RIDGE (which avoids mentioning his name at every turn...sigh) showcased more talent in 2 minutes than most movies have displayed in an hour and half this year thus far. I’m of this school: “He that is without sin, let him cast the first stone.” Am sure if we dig deep in many of our favorite stars lives, we’d find shit on them, only difference is that Gibson’s demons got airplay. It seems we as society love pointing fingers at others as opposed to pointing that finger at ourselves. We love them fall from grace stories cause it makes us feel high and mighty. Well don’t put me in that sad sack group. That’s all I’ll say about this whole Hollywood shunning Mel Gibson crap.
Confidently directed by Ace Jean-François Richet of MESRINE and ATTACK ON PRECINCT 13 re-do fame BLOOD FATHER’s key strength was in fact MEL GIBSON who played a recovering con and alcoholic, one that carried a huge burden of regret on his shoulders. And when his long lost daughter shows up on his doorsteps, he sees a shot at redemption and runs with it. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that Mel most likely related with the role (and so did I for that matter, we all mess up, we all live with regret and usually life does give us another shot, it’s up to us to take it) and that resulted in quite the powerful performance by Gibson - his best since Braveheart in my opinion. He wore his character’s pain on his sleeve, his eyes and the lines in his face spoke volumes and so did his body language. And when his sense of humor got to shine, it brought even further dimension to the role. This is probably one of the most earnest, gut wrenching and hypnotizing performances I've seen all year. Gibson was thankfully well supported. His chemistry with Erin Moriarty who played his daughter (she gave an intense and convincing star making turn here) was endearing and grounded, William H. Macy and Mel were so good together that I yearned for them to have more screen time while Diego Luna and Michael Parks shined as teh scumbags.
The desert location (ideally captured by Richet’s keen eye) was also a big plus as the desolation, emptiness and danger of it contributed to the dire situation at hand and also amplified/complemented the lead characters plights and state of mind. Add to that slick and witty dialogue that had me laughing out loud (the script written by Peter Craig who also wrote the novel this was based on, was fantastic), all kinds of emotionally stirring moments that brought tears to my eyes, some effective bits of suspense (well played Rivet), themes of redemption and faith that I related to (pay attention to Mel’s tattoos), a handful of visceral and expertly orchestrated action scenes that had me on the edge of my seat and quite the badass score by Sven Faulconer and you get ONE HELL OF A MOVIE! To go all cliché on ya: I laughed, I cried and I got all riled up! Only one qualm comes to mind: I wish there were more action set pieces. Sue me but watching Mel kicking that ass bring lots of pleasure to my life. On that, I was hooked in throughout nonetheless, taken in by the characters, their relationships, the dire situation and the stakes at hand.
On the whole, I walked out of this bad boy so inspired that I hit an Irish Pub afterwards, laptop in tow, to work on my own action script. BLOOD FATHER was a perfect mix of potent drama, action and Grindhouse! And in a world of Hollywood remakes and cape movies, it was a refreshing breath of fresh air! SEE IT! And I can’t wait for it to come out (on August 12, 2016) to tap it again and give it my money, (I saw it at a press screening). EXCELLENT!