Blood Father (3 stars)

Blood Father

Jean-François Richet's old-school action thriller sees Mel Gibson back to his grizzled best

Last seen in the third Expendables film, Mel Gibson takes that very notion into Blood Father, a crimson-splattered B-movie that dispenses with its characters with barely a second thought. Not that it ever lurches into quite the gratuitous territory that, say, Hardcore Henry managed earlier this year. It's an action thriller plain and simple, despite the thinly sketched redemption plotline concerning the central character's relationship with his estranged teenage daughter.

Gibson plays John Link, an ex-con and recovering alcoholic (William H Macy, spot-on as ever, plays his sponsor). Link lives in a trailer somewhere in the Coachella Valley, where he ekes out a living as a tattoo artist. But all that goes to hell when his 16-year-old offspring Lydia (Erin Moriarty) turns up out of the blue. Unbeknownst to Link, she's in deep trouble with three less-than-friendly criminals from south of the border, led by her bloodthirsty boyfriend Jonah (Diego Luna).

Adapted by Peter Craig (the son of actress Sally Field) from his own novel, Blood Father's pedigree extends to its director, Jean-François Richet, who made the stunning two-part gangster movie Mesrine and competently remade John Carpenter classic Assault on Precinct 13 – a film oddly referenced here, when Lydia goes to see it. With the action agreeably old-school, full of car chases and tension-fuelled shoot-outs, it feels like the sort of film Don Siegel would've once made.

True, the outcome is hardly original, as Link looks to protect his daughter from marauding Mexicans (Donald Trump would approve, though Blood Father doesn't have a political bone in its body). But clocking in at a lean 88-minutes, it never outstays its welcome. With Gibson at his grizzled best, it's also a sad reminder of just how good he can be, and what cinema has lost since his career became overshadowed by his off-screen scandals.

General release from Fri 7 Oct.

Blood Father

  • 3 stars
  • 2015
  • US
  • 1h 28min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Jean-François Richet
  • Cast: Mel Gibson, Elisabeth Röhm, Erin Moriarty, John Cusack
  • UK release: 7 October 2016

John Link (Gibson), ex-con and recovering alcoholic, lives by himself in a trailer but then has to protect his teenage daughter (Moriarty) from a gang of criminals. Crimson-splattered B-movie with a thinly sketched redemption plotline and agreeably old-school action.