Directed by Jean-François Richet
Hey hey!! Mel is back!
Not only that, but his new film is a solid, pulpy, gritty entry into the action/thriller genre. It’s modest budget and short running time suggest that this is a ‘B-movie’, as I have read many others comment on. While this may have seemed like the case to begin with, the finished product delivers and there certainly isn’t much evidence of a low budget, as the writing is excellent, bar a few one-liners that don’t land.
It is a simple but effective story, and somewhat autobiographical for Gibson – especially during his first scene as he talks with other members of his AA group about the ties that he has broken because of drinking, the people who he lost, who gave up on him. It is a fantastic opening monologue, and Mel wrings it for all it is worth. The camerawork here is notable, starting with an extreme close-up of Link (Gibson) that really shows how battered a man he is, slowly zooming out to reveal the setting he is in.
Gibson is solid as the old grump, and considering his personal life, it is hard to think of an actor who could dish out such a rusty, not-so-pretty performance in the way that Mel does here.
He plays an ex-convict who has been sober for two years. Things are relaxed in his trailer/tattoo parlour until he gets an urgent call from his daughter – a daughter he has been looking for for a long time. We don’t get told how long it has been, and I think this is a good idea as it gives the viewer the chance to decide for themselves, as we meet Link’s daughter Lydia (Erin Moriarty) and see the strained relationship.
The broken ties are slowly healed as their relationship develops, despite the chaos hitting them from all sides.
Of course this chaos doesn’t occur for no reason. Link’s daughter wasn’t calling to simply catch up. She is in trouble, and some important people want her dead, leading to violent clashes with gang members and even the cartel.
The action is brilliant throughout, with a chase scene on a motorbike that brings back memories of Mad Max, and an ending shoot-out that is one of the best I have seen recently. It is best not to say more, go into this relatively blind and you’ll have a good time.
The ending also doesn’t succumb to the tired, clichéd tropes of Hollywood. It hits hard and will probably stick with you.
While this may be nothing more than a vehicle for Mel Gibson’s career, it certainly packs a punch and is filled with some gritty, bloody violence. Nothing over the top, just good action and good writing, leading to a movie that is over before you know it. Erin Moriarty is great as Link’s daughter Lydia, but Gibson is the star of this show. William H. Macy and Michael Parks turn in some great supporting roles, but who are we kidding? This is Mel’s movie, and if he can continue this sort of work without his public life exploding, we could have him back in major movies soon. I guess this movie will be one of the deciding factors.
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