Edge of Darkness is a below-average thriller that is kicked up a notch by a stellar performance from Mel Gibson. Those expecting Taken 2, however, are going to be gravely disappointed. This is not the action movie you think you’ve seen in the trailers. Some vigilante justice is served, but the film as whole gets bogged down with a very talky script, little-to-no action, and a convoluted plot involving an energy corporation cover-up, corrupt government, and nuclear weapons.
Gibson is Tom Craven, a hard-boiled Boston cop who, as the film opens, is welcoming home his daughter, Emma (Navakovic), for a visit. It doesn’t take long for her to start bleeding from the nose and vomiting. Tom decides to take her to the hospital, and waiting on the other side of the front door is a masked man who guns down Emma. Boston PD begins their investigation under the assumption that Tom was the target, but Tom begins his own investigation and uncovers a much more startling truth.
The film’s setup is gripping, but the unraveling of the plot is not. This is fairly stock “you won’t believe what the government is doing behind your back!” stuff, right down to the obviously evil corporate exec (Huston) that ends his meeting with Gibson by asking how it feels to lose a child. Yikes. The action, what there is of it, is pretty by the books; save for possibly the most implausible vehicular homicide I have ever seen in a film. We all know it’s only a matter of time until Crazy Mel gets going, and the third act doesn’t disappoint. It’s just a slog getting there.
This is Gibson’s first big-screen role since 2003. Most are aware of his personal problems and the ugly remarks he made to an arresting officer back in 2006. My hunch is that most will accept him in this role. Gibson plays a determined father as well as anyone, and it’s impossible not to get behind him here. Without him, this film would have been a big mess. The supporting cast is acceptable, though it’s Ray Winstone as the man who serves as professional interference to the truth who has a real screen presence.
Edge of Darkness will tap into the more primal instincts of human nature. On that criterion alone the film works to a certain degree, but the more discerning viewer will want more than that and a recycled plot. Gibson makes his return with a role that he is comfortable with (think a slightly more violent Ransom), and he succeeds. The movie as a whole, however, probably should have stuck to the action and left the stock corrupt government storyline in the recycle bin.
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Length: 117 Minutes
Rating: R for strong bloody violence and language.
Theatrical Release: January 29, 2010
Directed by: Martin Campbell
Written by: William Monahan & Andrew Bovell. Based upon the TV series written by Troy Kennedy Martin.
Cast: Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Bojana Novakovic, Shawn Roberts