Mel Gibson hasn’t had much prominent movie work of late, for reasons that are relatively obvious. A series of scandals, involving a drunk driving arrest, anti-Semitic ramblings and a recording of him threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend steadily knocked Gibson off the A-list. The actor has continued to appear in movies recently, but none of his starring roles – The Beaver, Get the Gringo, Machete Kills – in the last five years have gained much box office traction, with the exception of his villain role in the ensemble action film The Expendables 3.
There are stirrings, though, of a possible Mel Gibson comeback. Hacksaw Ridge, a World War II film starring Andrew Garfield and Vince Vaughn that Gibson directed, is set for a release during Oscar season this year. Gibson also recently spoke of his interest in making a sequel to The Passion of the Christ. But first, Gibson is taking a path favored by several other actors of his age and generation: starring in a French-produced action film, involving an older, vengeful father.
Blood Father, a movie in which Gibson plays an ex-con father who protects his estranged daughter (Erin Moriarty) from drug dealers, has just debuted a new trailer. The film was directed by Jean-François Richet, the French writer-director of the 2005 Assault on Precinct 13 remake.
In the clip, Gibson sports a beard, undershirt and visible tattoos. Upon discovering that his daughter has been using drugs and has drug dealers after her after she shot the guy for whom they worked. The rest of the movie appears to be a road/chase picture, complete with shootouts, fights, and Gibson going toe-to-toe with large groups of criminals who are decades his junior – while also finding time to reconcile with the daughter he barely knows. Also on board is William H. Macy as Gibson’s tough-guy sidekick.
Can Blood Father be anything more than another variation on Taken, and the latest entry in a subgenre – older actor beats people up to protect his daughter and save their relationship – that looks to be approaching its sell-by date? Other actors have gone the Taken route – most unfortunately, Kevin Costner in Three Days to Kill – but few have enjoyed Liam Neeson’s success.
If Blood Father is going to win audiences over, it’s going to need an old-fashioned, charismatic leading man performance from Mel Gibson. Though he’s certainly earned a lot of criticism, Gibson was one of the biggest movie stars in the world for a pretty long period of time. If he can tap into that natural movie star charisma one more time, it’s not hard to imagine him turning over a new leaf in his career.
Blood Father comes out in U.S. theaters on August 26, 2016