Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Edge of Darkness


Review by Patrick Hodges

Welcome back, Mel.

It’s been eight years since M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs hit theaters, and due to Mel Gibson’s much-publicized travails with alcohol and tabloid-worthy encounters with law enforcement, we haven’t seen much of him since.  But no matter what you might now think of him as a person, there’s never been much doubt that he can turn in powerful performances as an actor.  And it’s refreshing to see that particular quality hasn’t waned during his extended leave of absence.

The 54-year-old Gibson stars as Thomas Craven, a Boston homicide detective and widower who receives a visit from his only family, his daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic).  Though they clearly love each other, it seems they’ve left solitary lives, and don’t spend a great deal of time together.  The visit starts to turn sour when Emma becomes violently ill, and goes even more horribly wrong when she is gunned down on Tom’s front porch.

Naturally, the investigation begins under the assumption that Tom was the target… at least, until he begins digging into his late daughter’s life, and discovers that there were volumes of secrets that she had been keeping.  It seems that she worked as a research assistant for a huge corporation called Northmoor, who may or may not have been involved with the manufacture of nuclear weapons.  An interview with their CEO (played with civilized menace by Danny Huston) yields little in the way of results.

He also comes into contact with a shady figure named Jedburgh (Ray Winstone), who has been hired to fix the mess that threatens to bring down some very powerful people.  You may have inferred from the trailer that he is a “cleaner”, when in fact the opposite is true – his job is to obfuscate and confuse the situation so badly that no one will be able to understand it.  To that end, he enters into an uneasy truce with Tom, clearly out of sympathy and admiration. 

This film was directed by Martin Campbell, whose resume includes both Zorro movies, two very good Bond films (Goldeneye and Casino Royale), and the 1985 six-part BBC miniseries that Edge of Darkness was based upon.  Campbell does a great job keeping the film taut and tense from beginning to end (including a few shockers that may make you jump out of your seat), but it’s really the cast that really shines here.  Gibson is perfectly cast as the grieving father tilting at windmills to bring his daughter’s killers to justice, and Winstone brings a very obvious panache to Jedburgh, a character whose presence is so welcome that you wish he could have been in more scenes.

The film’s ending got a little hectic and went pretty far afield, I would highly recommend it.  Be warned, however… this is not the kind of story that ends with everything wrapped in a neat little bow.  Whether it triggers a career resurgence, however small, for Gibson, one can only speculate.  I, for one, hope it does.

4 / 5 stars

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