Reviews

Edge of Darkness

3

Mel’s on the comeback trail…

“I’ve got nothing to lose!” growls Mel Gibson in his first starring vehicle for eight years, a hiatus which has seen both highs (The Passion Of The Christ) and lows (a collapsed marriage, that DUI arrest) for the Oscar-winning Braveheart man. More importantly it has seen his star eclipsed by a host of hotter, younger talents, putting the pressure on a movie seeking to re-establish him as a box-office draw.

In short, Mel has quite a lot to lose if Edge Of Darkness tanks. Which probably explains why Casino Royale helmer Martin Campbell plays it safe, smoothing off the edges from his classic 1985 miniseries to make it a standard-issue revenge drama in the vein of Mel’s earlier Payback. Relocated to Boston, it finds Gibson in Bob Peck’s role as the grieving copper trying to work out why his activist daughter was murdered in front of him. Where the original saw Peck uncover a complex conspiracy involving nuclear power, though, its successor has Gibson’s Thomas Craven reveal a rather more pedestrian case of corporate skullduggery, with Danny Huston’s urbane arms manufacturer pegged from the off as the man most likely to have something to do with his recent bereavement.

With little of the series’ political bite, Campbell opts instead for fisticuffs and shoot-’em-ups that feel arbitrarily imposed rather than organically motivated (at one stage Craven is inexplicably kidnapped and imprisoned, only to make an unlikely escape immediately afterwards). This is entertaining enough, provided you hold no candle for its inspiration’s sophistication and ambition. The same applies to Ray Winstone, perfectly serviceable as disillusioned mercenary Darius Jedburgh as long as you forget Joe Don Baker’s splendid template.

Nobody goes postal quite like Mel, giving a white heat to his personal mission that keeps us watching. For all its occasional thrills and bloody spills, however, the result lacks both darkness and edginess.

Verdict:

Gibson proves he’s still not to be messed with in a film that reasserts him as a sturdy, if rather grizzled leading man. A pity, though, this required Campbell to cookie-cut his masterly ’80s TV series into a formulaic actioner.

Film Details

User Reviews

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      Feb 2nd 2010, 1:19

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    • Siban1982

      Feb 3rd 2010, 21:42

      I guess it is true about your nose and ears continuing to grow as you get older...

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    • momlib56

      Feb 5th 2010, 16:16

      5

      AWESOME!!!

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    • ads84r

      Feb 15th 2010, 8:56

      3

      It has been eight years since Mel Gibson’s last starring role, and one feels there is a certain amount of pressure riding on this film’s success. Clearly Gibson has established himself as a talented Oscar winning director, but in eight years the inevitable arrival of younger actors looking to establish themselves as the next leading man has eclipsed the Aussie A-lister. It was an interesting choice for Director Martin Campbell to revisit his highly successful and tense mini-series and turn it into an action revenge drama. The premise of Gibson’s Detective Craven uncovering a political plot involving chemical weapons while investigating the brutal murder of his daughter should feel fresh with today’s current climate. However, at times it feels too familiar and a little dated. Had the film taken more of a political punch following in the footsteps of the other recent ‘re-imagining’ State of Play this could have offered something more high powered as opposed to low level detective revenge. The supporting cast do their best with some underwritten roles. Ray Winstone in particular delivers an effective ‘is he a good guy or bad guy’ performance as mercenary Darius Jedburgh. Danny Huston’s corporate boss however has bad guy practically stamped on his forehead as soon as he is introduced. It must have been a challenge to condense a classic mini-series into a two hour film, and it shows when the action is dropped in at random moments. It is almost as if they are expecting the viewer to get bored so have to throw in a car chase or shoot out to hold the interest and pack more of a punch. The same can be said regarding Craven’s grieving Detective. A film like this should rely on the audience to understand how grief stricken and driven by revenge the lead character, however the film regularly cuts to past scenes of Craven and his daughter to almost prove there was a strong bond between them. When it comes to the final scene, any realism the film may have had before is quickly lost. Overall this is an entertaining enough film, with some solid action sequences and a tense performance from Gibson. However if you’re looking for a darker, edgier thrill get yourself a copy of the original mini-series with Bob Peck or alternatively revisit Gibson’s previous revenge effort, Payback

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