Not quite the worst thing you’ll see all week: Blood Father

, | Movie reviews

Blood Father is at its best if you think of it as Mel “Sugar Tits” Gibson’s extension of his character from Lethal Weapon. Riggs gone to seed, still living in a trailer, but now in the high desert instead of on the coast, slightly racist but not too racist to be the lead character in a movie about an ex-con biker tattoo artist reconciling with his estranged daughter. Gibson is weathered and surprisingly beefy. There’s a lot of real estate on his arms for the fake tattoos. He’s a recovering alcoholic whose sponsor is William H. Macy. Macy’s character is a “trailer park poet” who has a trenchant analogy about sticking his thumb up his buddy’s ass. Then an action movie happens and Gisbon’s trailer gets shot up again. Oh, it’s on.

At one point the wildly bearded Gibson reconnects with his erstwhile biker pals who are still too racist to be anything but villains. The wonderful Michael Parks is the leader of the still racist bikers. Parks has a great monologue about culture co-opting subversive movements. “It happened to Hell’s Angels, it’s happening to rap,” he explains. It’s a pretty shrewd insight for a neo-Nazi biker. Who is this guy?

Then Gibson and Parks yell at each other, each wild-eyed and weathered in their own way. It should have been a golden spike between Donner and Tarantino. But Blood Father’s director, whose main claim to fame is a stylish remake of John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, doesn’t quite appreciate what he’s got. Shortly thereafter, Gibson will shave, put on a suit, and reprise the role he sanitized when he seized Brian Helgeland’s Payback and recut it to assidiously scrub out the antihero. “Give me back my daughter,” he screams into the phone. I’m paraphrasing, but that’s pretty much where Blood Father goes. Exactly where you’d expect a Mel Gibson movie to go.

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