Edge of Darkness
The Return of Mad Mel

Edge of Darkness seems to have all the elements in place for a successful revenge thriller.  First and foremost, it stars Mel Gibson.  Although making his first on-screen appearance since 2002’s Signs, Gibson is a veteran of vengeance-seeking roles and a perfect fit.  Secondly, the film is based on a popular British mini-series and updated by William Monahan (along with Andrew Bovell), who won an Oscar for his The Departed script.  Finally, the film is directed by Martin Campbell, who since directing the original mini-series has proved himself a successful action director with films like Goldeneye, The Mask of Zorro, and Casino Royale.  Unfortunately, the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts.

Gibson plays Thomas Craven, a Boston detective whose visiting daughter is shot and killed on his front porch.  Initially assuming that he was the target, Craven’s investigation slowly begins to uncover the reasons for his daughter’s vague descriptions of her work and friends.  Emma Craven was a “glorified intern” at a corporate research compound whose dealings may not be entirely on the level.  As he continues to investigate, he begins to learn that the conspiracy may even extend to the United States government, which has hired an independent contractor to clean up the mess.

Martin Campell, director of Edge of DarknessThe conspiracy plot, while potentially the film’s most interesting aspect, is actually its largest fault.  It’s an elaborate conspiracy that probably played out better over the extended running time of a mini-series.  The mid-section of Edge of Darkness becomes a bit mired in lengthy exchanges of expository dialogue.  Complicating this is the fact that many of the dialogue scenes come off as very awkward.  Awkward as written, awkward as staged, and awkward as performed.  It seemed that some of the supporting characters—in particular usually talented character actors Ray Winstone and Danny Huston—were mumbling their dialogue and it made an already complicated conspiracy plot even more challenging to follow.

In addition, although the material necessitates everyone involved take it seriously, it often felt as if most characters were taking things a little too serious and the result was some undesired laughs from the audience.  This was especially true whenever someone had to play scared, which was often.

Of course, the main question most people are going to have going into Edge of Darkness is going to be about Gibson’s return to acting.  Although it is far from his best performance and there are moments when his Boston accent really stands out, for the most part the actor has picked up right where he left off before his decade of tabloid headlines.  He feels right at home as the guy with nothing to lose, and after the lengthy exposition interludes are over and he finally does get his revenge, it inspires cheers.

Unfortunately, as nice as it is to see Gibson putting it to the bad guys at the end, the film has long since gotten lost in its own conspiracy theory.  The film also seems to take the easy way out when it feels the need to eliminate some supporting characters, and there is one death—the film’s most shocking—that is logistically ludicrous.

Edge of Darkness is rated R for “strong bloody violence and language.”  Although not as gory as it could have been, there is plenty of violence and language to warrant the R rating.

Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of Edge of Darkness.