Director: Martin Campbell
Cast: Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Shawn Roberts, Bojana Novakovic, Frank Grillo, Gbenga Akinnagbe
RunTime: 1 hr 48 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: NC-16 (Violence and Coarse Language)
Official Website: http://www.edge-of-darkness.com/
Opening Day: 28 January 2010
"Edge of Darkness" is an emotionally charged thriller
set at the intersection of politics and big business. Thomas
Craven (Mel Gibson) is a veteran homicide detective for the
Boston Police Department and a single father. When his only
child, twenty-four year-old Emma (Bojana Novakovic), is murdered
on the steps of his home, everyone assumes that he was the
target. But he soon suspects otherwise, and embarks on a mission
to find out about his daughter's secret life and her killing.
His investigation leads him into a dangerous, looking glass
world of corporate cover-ups, government collusion and murder
– and to shadowy government operative Darius Jedburgh
(Ray Winstone), who has been sent in to clean up the evidence.
Craven's solitary search for answers about his daughter's
death transforms into an odyssey of emotional discovery and
an undeniable thrill to watching Mel Gibson’s return
to acting since 2002’s "Signs". Once considered
one of Hollywood’s most bankable male leads, the actor
had of late been mired in some controversial off-screen behaviour
that has done little good to his reputation. But Gibson’s
role as a grief-stricken Boston police detective in the revenge
thriller "Edge of Darkness" is as good a comeback
as any and indeed sees the actor in great form.
As the doting father whose daughter is abruptly and brutally
killed in front of him, Gibson digs deep to portray the agony
of Thomas Craven- also a respected detective who finds his
profession an fortuitous aid in his search for the truth behind
her murder. Looking noticeably older from eight years ago,
Gibson is at front and centre the heart of the film, bringing
much emotional gravitas to his character as an aggrieved parent.
The film’s best scenes lie in the quiet moments with
Gibson, brows furrowed, trying to hold back his tears while
memories of his time spent with his daughter come flashing
back. In these moments, Gibson lets you feel the psychological
distress of his character that would ultimately lead him to
the edge of darkness. Yes, let’s not forget that "Edge
of Darkness" is a revenge thriller, and you can be sure
that in due time, the bad guys will discover they better not
mess with Mel.
For you’d just have to look at the kind of "Payback"
Gibson dealt out when he was held "Ransom" to know
that with Mel, revenge is a dish served cold, hard, fast and
brutal. So it is with "Edge of Darkness", that when
Gibson finally catches up with the villains, each one of them
would meet with death in particularly swift and violent means.
Be warned, you’d best be prepared that certain scenes
are definitely not for the squeamish.
While Gibson’s excellent turn helps preserve the character
motivations of the original 1985 BBC miniseries on which this
film is based, director Martin Campbell (who also directed
the miniseries) is considerably less successful in updating
the Thatcher-era politics for the geopolitical climate of
today. More than twenty years back, the subject of nuclear
aggression may have seemed prescient with the rise of Russia
as a nuclear power; but twenty years later, the subject just
seems too dated to be able to sustain much intrigue.
In their attempt to contemporarise the former Troy Kennedy
Martin script, screenwriters William Monahan ("The Departed")
and Andrew Bovell have added shadowy military corporations,
morally ambiguous government officials and radical left-wing
activists to their conspiracy tale. Unfortunately, Monahan
and Bovell don’t make the story any less far-fetched
than it sounds. They are also not helped by director Martin
Campbell’s suffocating approach of telling the story
strictly from Gibson’s point of view, so much so that
one understands little outside the clues picked up and is
eventually left perplexed by the seemingly gaping plot holes.
And although one may think that with Campbell on board this
would be an action thriller, "Edge of Darkness"
really is not. In fact, it is surprisingly talky- much like
last year’s "State of Play"- with its focus
on intrigue instead of action. Alas its story just isn’t
intriguing enough, and without much action to compensate,
what’s left to savour is only the cast’s excellent
performance- including the outstanding Ray Winstone in a nice
supporting role as a shady government operative. But this
is through and through a Mel Gibson show, and he proves that
he still has the edge to deliver a fine, fine performance.
(Mel Gibson’s performance has still got that edge, but
the rest of the movie is just too blunt to make this an edge
of your seat ride)
Review by Gabriel Chong