Lydia (Erin Moriarty) is has just bought bullets at a superstore for her gangster boyfriend Jonah (Diego Luna), and as she bundles herself into his car with his cohorts she has no idea of what she is getting involved with, but she has gone astray with drink and drugs contributing to her poor choices. They end up at an isolated house where Jonah and company venture inside, guns drawn, leaving Lydia in the garden, but suddenly there is a shot that smashes the window in the front door and she rushes to see what has happened, fearing the worst. Inside, a man she does not know lies dead, and presumably his wife is sitting as a hostage: Jonah presses a pistol into Lydia's hand and demands she shoot the woman!
It does not quite work out that way, as in her panic the girl shoots Jonah in the neck instead, not the kind of behaviour that goes down well with the Mexican gang fraternity, hence she quickly finds herself on the run. Who can she turn to? How about her dad, the father of the title, who is played by Mel Gibson? You can understand why this role would appeal to him as it was one of redemption, which not only suited his religious leanings but also his career interests too, as his John Link character was a recovered alcoholic, living one day at a time in a trailer park populated by other ex-drug abusers, and making his money as a tattoo artist rather than anything illegal he might have been involved with.
Link is an ex-con as well, so you can see with all that baggage in his past that would appeal to Gibson who very publicly had suffered more than one meltdown which made him persona non grata in the sort of blockbusters he had enjoyed being part of up to then. There had been rumours of his obnoxious behaviour before, but they were shrugged off thanks to the devotion of his many fans, a hardcore bunch who stood by their idol no matter how badly he carried himself, so Blood Father was as you would expect, ideal for him. It was touted as another comeback vehicle for Gibson, and he had a few of those in his resumé that had never really worked out, but 2016 was definitely the year that his real life redemption actually took off.
However, it was not with this film, it was with Hacksaw Ridge, the film he was Oscar-nominated for directing but not appearing in, which meant this was overshadowed by a more significant achievement. Was it worth neglecting? Well, it was an overwrought piece in too many scenes as director Jean-François Richet overdid the emotional aspect of the relationship between his two lead characters, but you could accurately observe it was never going to gather up a huge audience anyway. Peter Craig's original novel had been earmarked as a vehicle for Sylvester Stallone rather than Gibson, and you could well envisage this as a role that an action hero of a certain age would have relished, but in a way it was better how it had turned out, since the leading man had so much real world, er, experience, shall we say.
It was a lived-in performance as a result, and to the film's benefit, even if it was yet another thriller depicting the lower classes of Western society as a bunch of criminals, even the good guys. When Lydia is brought to Link's trailer she is an addict and he notices that straight away, leading him to be determined to shake her of her habit since she is in enough trouble as it is. There was a flavour of "daddy knows best" about both the tone and the plot, as Lydia makes so many wrong choices that she would not have done if her parents had been a stronger influence, but better late than never is the theme as Link sets about putting his daughter on the straight and narrow. No, he doesn't go to the cops, he takes matters into his own hands, all the while lamenting how he is violating his own parole conditions, which delivered a not always slick mixture of drama and action with Gibson supported by some accomplished performances on both the good and bad side of the moral divide - Raoul Max Trujillo especially was a formidable presence who made the situation heave with peril. Otherwise, more functional than inspired, but it did the job. Music by Sven Faulconer.