At the height of his career, Mel Gibson was effortlessly churning out hit movie after hit movie, switching also between acting and directing, vis a vis his peerless Apocalypto (2006), which was nominated for three Academy Awards and scooped a string of other gongs.
That Gibson is a talent both in front and behind the camera is not in doubt. Nor is his ability to slip lithely between genres - the comedic 1994 Maverick and What Women Want in 2000, compared to the hard-edged Payback in 1999 and, of course, Mad Max (1979), the movie character which he made his own and which also launched his career, evidence this.
But then, as in any great tragedy, came the fall. Gibson had a very public meltdown, which came in 2006 after he was arrested for drink driving, when he was alleged to made an anti-Semetic rant. Then in 2010, his former partner released a tape recording in which he was heard to use violent and sexist language. Gibson’s film career seemed to mirror the angst in his personal life. He was cast out of the Hollywood system.
Still, that didn’t stop him entirely. He was thrown a lifeline by Sly Stalone in The Expendables 3 (2014) and his turn in The Beaver (2011) was humble and moving.
And now, having dealt with his demons, as it were, it looks as though one of the most interesting actor/directors of his generation is back where he belongs.
The resurrection of Mel Gibson behind and in front of the camera begins, then, with his starring role in Jean-Francois Richet’s gritty thriller, Blood Father, adapted from the book of the same title by Peter Craig.
College graduate Lydia Link (Erin Moriarty) goes off the rails under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and she falls in with a bad crowd led by her boyfriend Jonah (Diego Luna).
His gang attacks a family in their home, but Lydia refuses to shoot the wife and instead, she accidentally discharges a gun at Jonah.
Believing she has killed her beau, Lydia flees the scene and makes contact with her ex-convict father John (Gibson), who is on parole.
He agrees to shelter her from Jonah’s gang aided by his parole sponsor Kirby (William H Macy), despite the obvious threats to his liberty.
Once John discovers that Lydia is enslaved to narcotics, he helps her to go cold turkey and clean up her life.
However, the gang is hot on her trail and they intend to make Lydia pay for her betrayal.
A stand-off ensues between the thugs and John, who realises he is going to have to violate his parole to protect Lydia.
It’s an action film with Gibson the latest in a string of ‘older’ male actors (Liam Neeson being the first man into the ring) to restrap their old sparring gloves. In November, he will release ‘anti-war’ war film, Hacksaw Ridge and he’s also working on period drama The Professor and The Madman and a sequel to 2004’s controversial but acclaimed The Passion of the Christ.
So, while this may be seen by many as a run of the mill actioner, Mel is definitely back,