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Blood Father

Lionsgate Home Entertainment // R // October 11, 2016
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ian Jane | posted October 14, 2016 | E-mail the Author

The Movie:

Directed by Jean-François Richet, the man behind the remake of Assault On Precinct 13, 2016's Blood Father stars Mel Gibson as a man named John Link. He's recently been paroled and has quit the bottle, thanks to some help from his sponsor Kirby (William H. Macy), and is making a new life for himself as a tattoo artist. He lives in a trailer in the American southwest and more or less keeps out of trouble. Then one day he gets a phone call from Lydia (Erin Moriarty), his estranged daughter. She's been missing in action for a while now but calls him out of the blue because she needs his help. John never really gave up hope when she went missing, so he's quite enthused to hear from her even if it's under circumstances that are less than ideal.

See, while Lydia was off doing her own thing away from her old man, she was running with some Mexican gangsters. She got involved with a man named Jonah (Diego Luna) and during one of their runs, things got bad and she wound up shooting him. Now she's essentially on the run from those gangsters. John sees this as a chance to reconnect with this kid and make up for past mistakes, but of course, along the way he'll have to break parole about as often as he'll have to break some necks. John's not going to let the bad guys get to his girl, no matter how much all of this might frustrate Kirby.

This movie might string together a bunch of clichés as far as the plot is concerned, but it does this well. Maybe more surprising is how strong the character development is here. Yes, there are some pretty intense action set pieces and the chance to see Gibson busting heads and shooting bad guys will certainly be the main draw here, but there are dramatic moments between father and daughter that are quite well done. Some of this stems from good writing. The characters are nicely fleshed out and have some depth to them. Just as much of this stems from the performances, however. The movie plays to Gibons's strengths as an action hero but it also allows him to remind us that, yeah, the guy can handle drama too. Gibson's not a young man anymore and the movie exploits that well. His face is starting to get weathered and world weary and it suits this type of character well. At the same time, he's still perfectly capable of holding his own. His bushy beard and grizzled appearance give him the right sort of vibe to pull off the ‘tough old guy' role really well.

Likewise, Erin Moriarty is quite good here too. We have no trouble buying them as parent and child, they have good chemistry in this picture. Throw in some really fun supporting work from the always great William H. Macy and Elysium's Diego Luna as Lydia's connection to the criminal underworld and the principals shape up well. We even get a fun, if brief, appearance from Michael Parks as a preacher and from Miguel Sandoval too.

The movie goes at a good clip, the pacing here is strong and the editing is tight. The southwest locations give everything a bit of a hot and dirty look like something you might see in a Sam Peckinpah movie, but at the same time it's nicely shot. The compositions are good and sometimes do an impressive job of showing off some of the natural scenery that exists in these surroundings. Sven Faulconer's score is also very good, highlighting the ups and downs of the story quite effectively and helping to punch up the action sequences a bit.

The movie also has a good sense of humor. Some of the dialogue is pretty funny, witty even, but not to the point where it feels out of place with what's happening to our characters. The action scenes are grounded, never too over-the-top, and more exciting and tense for it. On the surface this might look like Mel Gibson does Taken but despite some of the thematic similarities, Blood Father is very much its own beast. This is a clever, well-written action film that offers up some believable drama to make the scenes of violence and carnage all the more compelling.

The Blu-ray:


Blood Father arrives on Blu-ray framed at 2.35.1 widescreen in an AVC encoded transfer and the quality of the image is rock solid. Detail is typically excellent as is texture and there's plenty of depth and dimensionality to the picture throughout. Colors generally look really good as well, though some post production tweaking is apparent and in these scenes things are intentionally graded in such a way as to look a bit less than natural. Black levels are nice and deep while shadow detail remains strong. Flesh tones look nice and lifelike and the image is free of any obvious compression artifacts or edge enhancement. The picture is also as pristine as you'd expect a recently shot digital production to be. All in all, no complaints, this is a strong transfer.


The only audio option on the disc is a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track. There are no alternate language options although subtitles are provided in English SDH and Spanish. Again, the disc scores top marks. There's plenty of surround activity here, and while it's mostly noticeable in the action set pieces attentive viewers will pick up on some neat ambient and background effects during some of the movie's quieter scenes. Dialogue stays perfectly balanced throughout and there are no troubles with any hiss or distortion to note. Strong bass response is a constant and there's good depth to the score and weight behind the sound effects.


Aside from menus and chapter selection, the only extra on the disc is a twenty-nine minute featurette called Lost Souls: On The Road With Blood Father. This is a pretty standard ‘making of' piece that features cast and crew interviews and some reasonably interesting footage of Gibson himself doing his thing both in front of and behind the camera. Some of the footage is worth seeing but this is a fairly light piece, one of those EPK style segments where everyone interviewed talks about how great their experiences were and how wonderful everyone else was to work with.

Final Thoughts:

Blood Father is just a solidly entertaining slice of action and drama. Gibson and Moriarty are really good here and Macy's supporting work is great. The movie engages on all the levels a film like this should, offering up lots of excitement along with a few heartfelt moments without feeling sugary or overdone. The Blu-ray disc is light on extras but it does look and sound really nice. Recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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