— by MARIUSZ ZUBROWSKI —
Though I can’t fathom the mindset of a parent whose child has been murdered, I can’t imagine anyone going on a bloody rampage in order to deliver their own brand of “justice.” But of course, not everything in film is realistic. We, as movie-goers, have been treated to a multitude of movies that deal with the grieving parent. One that comes to mind is “Taken” — the popular Pierre Morel thrill-ride where Liam Nelson plays Byran, a former spy who comes out of retirement after the kidnapping of his daughter. Martin Campbell’s “Edge of Darkness” is this year’s “Taken.” Campbell has earned prestige for directing “Casino Royale” and “Goldeneye,” both of which are considered greats in the Bond franchise, and he does not disappoint with his latest film — which stars Mel Gibson in his first performance in years.
The plot of “Edge of Darkness” is as follows (via imdb.com): Thomas Craven is a veteran homicide detective in the Boston Police Department. As they are walking out the front door of his house, his 24-year old daughter Emma is blow away by a shotgun blast. Everyone assumes that Thomas, who was standing next to her, was the killer’s intended target. However, Thomas begins to suspect that Emma was the real target. Driven by heartache and blame, Thomas initiates his own private investigation to uncover Emma’s secret life and the reason for her murder. His investigation leads him down the path of corporate and government cover-ups, which resulted in his daughter’s elimination. Thomas receives some help from a government operative, Jedburgh, who has been sent in to clean-up the situation. Thomas Craven’s search for the truth brings him closer to his daughter and his own deliverance.
The story is easy to follow because of it’s familiarity in the thriller genre. Though it is formulaic and predictable, the interesting set of characters help create an immersive experience for most movie-goers. Thomas Craven is easy to cheer for and unlike the protagonists of similar films, Craven doesn’t resort to violence until it’s necessary and this adds an organic feel to the implausible conspiracy that his daughter, Emma, has been gotten herself involved in. Jedburgh is another interesting character because though he is paid to help deceitful government officials, he questions his own morality; moments into Jedburgh and Craven’s first encounter, it is discovered that Jedburgh has no children and this triggers a philosophical sub-plot throughout the rest of “Edge of Darkness.”
One thing worth mentioning about the film is that it doesn’t exploit violence as much as other such films have. I’ve already mentioned that Craven tries all approaches before committing acts of violence, but none of these sequences feel forced and exaggerated. The action sequences are not as intense as the ones in “Taken” and are scattered throughout the film as a whole, and this gives the captivating performance of the returning Gibson the job of maintaining interest.
Gibson has never been everyone’s favorite actor — and his anti-Semitic remarks of a few years ago didn’t earn him any new fans — but his influence in Hollywood is unquestionable. However, for those who look past Gibson’s public life and beyond his directorial efforts, “Edge of Darkness” is a treat. Gibson has not lost the personality that he embraced in films such as “Lethal Weapon” or “Braveheart” and he has remained in top-form. His performance as Craven is organic, believable, and likable and this only intensifies during the third act — as the film nears its poetically satisfying ending.
Ray Winstone also does a brilliant job as Jedburgh, but beyond Winstone and Gibson, there are no other standout performances. Danny Huston does a decent job at portraying the corrupt Jack Bennett and Bojana Novakovic does a bland job at playing Emma. The cast also includes Caterina Scorsone, Shawn Roberts, David Aaron Baker and Damian Young.
“Edge of Darkness” has a couple of weaknesses. One of them being the script. It’s definitely passable, but there are moments where it becomes laughable. One such line is “you’ve better decide if you’re hanging on the cross … or banging in the nails,” which is just weird to hear from Gibson as he was at the center of all religious hype with his “Passion of the Christ.” The soundtrack is equally flawed, as you cannot shake the feeling that you’ve heard the same exact orchestral music in hundreds of other movies, but it works so it’s forgivable.
Martin Campbell’s latest movie isn’t ground-breaking nor is it terribly original. But this remake of a BBC television show is boosted by a brilliant performance by Mel Gibson — which is sure to not only please his fans but also leave them hungry for more.
— Click here for seven clips from “Edge of Darkness’ —
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Follow Mariusz Zubrowski on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ijm_Mariusz.