John Link is a former parolee. He lives in a desert caravan settlement, where he spends his time counting the days he is sober and at AA meetings. He earns his living as a tattoo master, and in addition to everything he has spent over his decades, and he has spent a lot, what worries him the most is his missing daughter Lydia. She disappeared a couple of years ago while he was still in prison and all trace of her is lost. However, one evening he received a call from Lidija that she was in danger and that she needed help. And that’s where the party starts…
Guided by some other films, of which there have been many in recent years, where a fucked-up father rescues his daughter, tame villains like flies, I expected something like that here as well. I must say that I am glad I was wrong. The basis is the same, but not everything else, and the French director, best known for the films Mesrine Part 1: Killer Instinct (with Kassel) and Assault on Precinct 13, Jean-François Richet, is mostly to blame.
He blended more great stuff and made a good movie. In the first place is Mel Gibson, who is breaking up here. First, he looks with a long gray beard and a tattooed body, which speaks of the whole past, very complicated and wild, the character he interprets. We can see all the past battles, won and lost. We can sense that Link has done a lot of bad things to others, but also to himself by destroying everything that comes to hand, especially alcohol. Contrary to that first impression, which strongly reveals all of the above, Mel brilliantly, and in a fun way, presents the new Link. Link is now peeling off his parole, living a different life in a desert shelter. As he himself says, he is aware of everything he has done and there is no help. The only thing he can do for his missing daughter is at least one good thing, to be sober.
When she returns to his life, everything changes and he is ready to do anything to protect her. But don’t do it the way we all expect. No, he questions her life along the way and tries to get her back on the right path, to get her off the same path that he went to ruin. There is a lot of fun in this movie, and Mel does it the best he can and at times it’s like watching his lucid character from Lethal Weapon. All of Link’s actions on their journey, all of his moves and decisions, can be summed up and understood by his statement, I’m sure I’m going to hell, but not right away.
Mel is excellent in interpreting this extremely interesting and colorful character. Rishe thus placed one strong figure in a desert environment, bright lights and sand. He gave him a story in which everything that such a character carries can be fully developed. He surrounded him with a couple of other impressive characters, and in the end we got a very interesting and dynamic action thriller. The final touch was the insertion of elements of a modern western, as well as some small little things that remind you of some other cult films, in this case, me, Mad Max. Riche did a great job and one can notice the touch of European charm he gave to this film.
In addition to Mel, I said there are a couple of other impressive characters. The first is William H. Macy, who plays Kirby, Link’s sponsor at AA and best friend. His role is small, but he uses it every second and, as always, it’s a pleasure to watch. The other, also with a not so big role, is Michael Parks in the role of Pritcher. The old biker and Nazi is a genius in his role. It represents Link’s past and through it we learn a lot about Link himself. Simply, the old guard broke down here and the film would have been much worse and weaker if it weren’t for them. In addition to the parents, there is Erin Moriarty who plays Lydia. She did her part quite solidly and I can say that she fit in well with Mel.
Blood Father may not be what you expect. Primarily because he is behind the wheel of a European director, so the film is derailed by American standards. It brings a story about true values, about what is important in life and that for those values a person is ready to go to the extreme to protect them. A story of life choices, repentance, loyalty. A story about a father and daughter, friends and those who are not honest.
Blood Father is an R-rated action-packed thriller, with strong and striking characters. A modern western embraced by desert scenography, which tells us its story in a dangerous and exciting way. An ordinary, human story in an unusual and inhuman environment, just like all western stories. Where there is no mercy, no help, no way out, except the one you create yourself, relying on what you ride, what you shoot and how far you are ready to go to do what you need to do.