Edge of Darkness (2010)

Content by Tony Macklin. Originally published on February 4, 2010 @ Fayetteville Free Weekly.

Edge of Darkness gives Mel Gibson's career a needed jolt, actually several jolts.

Every time the movie threatens to lag, there's a startling shock of violence -- and Gibson is usually right in the middle of it.

Mel looking appropriately haggard -- after years of personal shame and struggle -- plays Tommy Craven, a Boston police detective who becomes committed to finding out why his daughter was slain. Was it one of his enemies, or something else?

Edge of Darkness is a surprisingly well-done thriller -- well-written, well-directed, and well-acted. Unfortunately, after an hour and a half of substantial filmmaking, it collapses into a Lethal Weapon #6 climax. But the bulk of the film is worthy.

Edge of Darkness is a remake of an extremely successful mini-series on BBC-TV in England in 1985. The original was divided into six 50-minute episodes. It was 314 minutes, while the new movie is a taut 108.

Both versions were directed by Martin Campbell, who also directed GoldenEye (1995) and Casino Royale (2006). Campbell knows his action, and uses close-ups to advantage. He skillfully focuses on a pistol in a hand, water swirling down a sink, a hand with a lock of hair. And his use of the nearly constant rain creates an evocative atmosphere.

Edge of Darkness is a tale of revenge and intrigue that leads the tormented policeman on a path into corporate greed, radioactive scheming, volatile paranoia, and brutal conspiracy. Gibson is a good choice to lead us on this careening chase. His stride is weary but purposeful.

Ray Winstone effectively plays Jedburgh [in a role originally intended for Robert De Niro]. Jedburgh is a dangerous but philosophical man of mystery, and he and Craven warily bond in a world of death and deceit.

Bojana Novabovic plays Craven's daughter Emma, but the scenes between Craven and Emma's ghost-like presence sometimes smack of coyness.

The screenplay by William Monahan (who won the Oscar for adapting The Departed) and Andrew Bovell Americanizes the movie.

It's a somewhat literate script -- one character even quotes Scott Fitzgerald. And there's a lengthy scene of Craven and Jedburgh having a conversation in Craven's yard. It may bore action fans, but they need not worry. Action is coming.

Very ironically, Mel Gibson isn't anywhere to be seen in the penultimate wipe-out scene.

Maybe Mel has had enough of the Apocalypse.

Yeah, right.

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