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Blood Father (Blu-Ray Review)

 

Blood Father thumbIn Blood Father, which comes out on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD on October 11th, Mel Gibson (Maverick, Payback) effortlessly transcends his troubled public persona to portray a gruff semi-racist man trying to escape his past by telling the only woman is his life to shut up and follow his instructions lest she find herself facing physical violence. Additionally, it has some pretty brutal and fun action scenes and doesn’t take itself too seriously, so it might just be worth a watch.

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On the other hand, Blood Father may just fall into a sort of dead space where it isn’t consistently fun enough to be a B action movie and it isn’t good enough to be “show your friends marvel at the action scenes” kind of a thing. Also, the acting, goodness me the acting is all over the place. But, let’s start at the beginning. Blood Father is about John Link, played by Gibson, who is a now-two-years-sober ex-con who lives in a trailer and subsists as a tattoo artist. His daughter Lydia, played by Erin Moriarty (“Jessica Jones”) thought to have been missing for a few years, calls him up to ask for money because she is in some trouble with a gang. John jumps at the opportunity to bring his daughter home and help her out with her troubles.

As it turns out, the trouble she is in has the two of them running from and fighting against a number of gun-wielding gangsters while John tries to keep his daughter safe, solve the issues leading to her pursuit, and stay away from law enforcement and alcohol. The father and daughter duo dart between cars and hotels dodging gunfire and forging a strong relationship as the 90 minutes of the film’s runtime plays out. As could be expected from a film such as this, there is a culminating action scene that nearly makes some of the waiting worthwhile.

There are issues with Blood Father. The most notable is Erin Moriarty’s acting. She is distractingly bad in this film. Every time she has lines or is supposed to be emoting, the film grinds to a halt with her strange stilted delivery. This is odd, because she is great in “Jessica Jones,” so it isn’t like she is unable to act better. Perhaps, though, her acting is only so noticeable because Mel Gibson is going at one million percent throughout this whole film. The dude is in rare form here, almost to the point of parody. His overacting, mixed with some solid supporting roles by William H. Macy (Magnolia) and Michael Parks (Red State) do their best to salvage the energy-less blah-ish drain that is Moriarty.

Another distracting, but less important element, that could be seen as an issue in the film is the combo of pacing and jumpy editing. The characters don’t spend much of time reacting to a lot of the really crazy things going on in their attempt to escape the gangs and cops, which can lead to things like a scene where a trailer gets shot full of bullets and then tipped over by a truck and the two main characters just hop out and find the real tension of the scene in wondering if their car will start so they can casually drive away. So that happens, then we fade to them checking in at a hotel and the front desk clerk is trying to imply that John Link is lucky to have such a hot young girl to spend the night with. That is a jarring way to try to breathe and transition as a viewer after such a big bombastic action sequence. It doesn’t quite work the way it feels like director Jean-François Richet (Assault on Precinct 13 [2005]) intends it to work.

Blood Father is a little boring, it is a bit of a tonal mess, it is oddly edited, Erin Moriarty’s acting is atrocious, and it would be hard to call the film incredibly original. But, Mel Gibson is acting his ass off in it and there is a pretty good action scene near the end, so it is a hard to say that it isn’t worth something. Also, Mel Gibson has very emotive eyes and after the point in the film where he shaves off his beard, he still looks like a dreamboat and it is so hard to hate that much handsomeness.

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Clarity/Detail: Excellent detail and clarity. Filmed professionally, transferred professionally.

Depth: A bit flat due to the extra touch of wideness in the framing, but still deep enough to be considered to have good depth

Black Levels: Black levels look solid.

Color Reproduction: Bright and lively colors throughout.

Flesh Tones: Skin-like and fleshed out.

Noise/Artifacts: Very clean, with no noticeable artifacting.

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Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: Quite dynamic. Great sounding sounds all around.

Low Frequency Extension: Gunshots, explosions, motorcycles. The subwoofer likes this film.

Surround Sound Presentation: Great surround usage, with action scenes utilizing the effect well

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue sounds clear and crisp. Gibson’s growling gruffness and Moriarty’s shrill bleating come through as if they are right in the room with you.

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Extras Dex-1Dexter-0Dexter-0Dexter-0Dexter-0

-Lost Souls: On the Road with Blood Father (29 Minutes, HD) – Some behind the scenes interviews with the cast and crew, showing some of the more complex shot setups in the film. This mostly highlights the influence Mel Gibson had on the direction of the film as he is frequently shown flexing his directorial muscles to add bits to scenes in the film. Otherwise, this is just a bunch of people talking about how much they enjoy making a film, which is the same as nearly every other featurette of this type on other releases.

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As far as a Blu-ray release, it would be advisable to stay away from Blood Father, as the film isn’t super special and the one special feature adds nothing to the viewing experience. But, if someone happens to throw this on in the background, stop and take in Mel Gibson acting everyone else out of the building and that those couple interesting action sequences. This may not be the comeback that redeems Gibson for his public nonsense, but it is a step along the way.

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I like to be challenged to think about things, so I studied Philosophy in college. Now I am paying for it.

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