Edge of Darkness Review

(2.5 STARS)

I sat down to watch Edge of Darkness wondering if I’d still be able to separate Mel Gibson the actor from Mel Gibson the lunatic. I was happy that I still possess that skill. However, that doesn’t mean this is a good movie. Nor does it mean that Gibson gives a good performance. Both are completely average. There’s compelling material here, but it’s too dense for the running time, so things aren’t properly developed. And Gibson’s Tom Craven is a little too one-dimensional to get behind as a hero.

Craven (Gibson) is a Boston police officer who lives to make his daughter happy. We get the idea that they haven’t always had the best relationship, but he clearly adores her. Emma (Bojana Novakovic) works for a mysterious weapons manufacturer, but only as a “glorified intern.” She gets suddenly and violently ill after only a few minutes with her father, so they decide to go to the hospital. But as soon as they step out of the house, a masked man shoots Emma, killing her.

Tom is understandably devastated and vows to solve the case, which takes him deep into the inner workings of Northmoor, Emma’s company. Northmoor’s CEO, Jack Bennett (Danny Huston), isn’t very forthcoming with information, but Tom’s determination and willingness to do whatever it takes—at the urging of the mysterious Jedburgh (Ray Winstone)—allow him to get all the information he needs about his daughter’s death. But there are many people who don’t want him to know this information, and they are as determined to keep Tom quiet as Tom is to know the truth.

Director Martin Campbell (of Goldeneye and Casino Royale fame) and screenwriter William Monahan (The Departed) were clearly inspired by the 2008 sleeper hit Taken. This film is darker and full of more exposition, but the parallels are apt. The lead character is absolutely driven and seemingly infallible. Neither film tried to rewrite the action genre. They are both serviceable, somewhat silly thrillers. The big difference: Taken was a hit; Edge of Darkness bombed.

Once the film gets into the nitty-gritty details of Emma’s life and the realities of Northmoor, it becomes quite uneven. Some moments are inspired; others are muddled. Part of the problem is that the source material on which the film is based is a six-episode BBC miniseries. Here, we have less than two hours to tell the same story, which means many things are condensed or poorly explained.

This was dubbed as Mel Gibson’s big return to acting. His last major onscreen appearance was in Signs, and his last involvement with a film in any capacity was Apocalypto. His acting here is what you might from someone who was never a great actor and hasn’t acted in years. His Boston accent is pretty rough, and he doesn’t do anything to make his character memorable. But for a film of this type, he does what’s expected of him—nothing more. Edge of Darkness should be more about plot and cheap thrills, so I won’t pick on Gibson too much. I’ll leave that to the rest of humanity.

The real standout in terms of acting is Ray Winstone. His character is fascinating, and while subtitles are a requirement for any scene he’s in, he’s still a lot of fun and very mysterious. Danny Huston is as generic as any bad guy in recent memory, while Bojana Novakovic makes a strong impression despite very limited screen time.

In the end, Edge of Darkness does pretty much what I expected. It has some thrills and a few bloody good kills, but not much else. I hoped it might be a little more interesting, but the material is just too much for the folks involved. I think this is probably it for Mel Gibson’s career. It won’t be something people will remember, but at this point, I don’t think any of his films can overshadow the man.

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