- Rated R
- Buy the BD
All photos © Warner Bros.
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
he trailers for “Edge of Darkness” promised an action-packed revenge thriller in the same vein as last year’s surprise hit, “Taken.” At least, that’s what the studio wants you to think, but it’s pretty far from it. Though the movie does have some action sprinkled throughout, it plays more like the sort of hard-boiled thrillers that ruled the cineplexes in the 1970s; ones that didn’t need extravagant set pieces to hold the audience's interest. It’s certainly a worthy attempt at resurrecting the genre, but with guys like Martin Campbell and William Monahan pulling the strings, “Edge of Darkness” should have been a whole lot better.
Based on the BBC miniseries of the same name, the film stars Mel Gibson as homicide detective Tom Craven. When his daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic) comes home to Boston to visit for the weekend and is gunned down on his doorstep, the police believe he was the intended target. But Craven doesn’t have any enemies, and after discovering a gun amongst Emma’s possessions, he decides to investigate further. His suspicions lead him to Emma’s workplace – a private contracting company called Northmoor – where she was planning to blow the whistle on her boss, Jack Bennett (Danny Huston), for his top secret development of nuclear weapons. Desperate to plug the leak before the truth is exposed, a fixer named Jedburgh (Ray Winstone) is sent in to deal with Craven before it's too late, completely underestimating the power of a father’s love for his daughter.
Martin Campbell may be responsible for two of the more enjoyable James Bond films in the franchise, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s still a pretty mediocre director. Though his strengths shine through during the film's odd action sequence, Campbell struggles to make William Monahan’s fairly complex script more accessible. The fact that he directed the original miniseries couldn’t have helped, because while he may be familiar with the source material, that version was also six hours long and could afford much slower pacing. Campbell doesn’t have that kind of time in the film adaptation, and although the streamlined story works better than it did in Kevin Macdonald’s “State of Play,” it also forces certain characters (like Winstone’s Jedburg) into the background.
In fact, all of the supporting players suffer from the abbreviated script. Bojana Novakovic is barely on screen before her body’s cold, while Danny Huston’s villain lacks any real bite. Ray Winstone is given the rawest deal, however, as his character (think Michael Clayton without a heart) is so ambiguous that it’s never really clear what role he plays in the story. It’s a good thing Mel Gibson finally decided to come out of semi-retirement, because “Edge of Darkness” succeeds almost entirely on his strong performance. Gibson has played several variations of this role before, but he’s so damn good at it that it doesn’t really matter. Say what you will about his highly publicized return, because the guy still knows how to carry a movie – even one as surprisingly average as this.
Two-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
It’s hard to know what to expect out of a Blu-ray these days when the cover art detailing the included content fails to do just that. For instance, while the two-disc release of “Edge of Darkness” initially appears to be light on bonus material, there’s actually much more than Warner Brothers is letting on. Along with a handful of deleted scenes, the Blu-ray also includes a series of mini-featurettes tackling everything from the return of Mel Gibson to the differences between the original miniseries and the film adaptation.