Edge of Darkness (Review)

EDGE OF DARKNESS
(1/29/10; Action)
Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Shawn Roberts, Bojana Novakovic
SCR: William Monahan, Andrew Bovell
DIR: Martin Campbell
MPAA: R for strong bloody violence and language.
1 hour 57 mins
BOX: $43,078,393

Gibson returns to acting after an eight year hiatus with a role that places him well within his safe zone, that of a wronged, vengeful badass: Thomas Craven, a veteran homicide detective for the Boston Police Department who welcomes home his only daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic) only to watch her gunned down on his front steps. The assumption is that he was the target, but there would be no movie if it were that easy.

Gibson’s a lot more grizzled and those extra lines on his face only accent his surprisingly powerful performance. Despite a trailer that promises action aplenty, Darkness is a deliberately-paced thriller about looming death that at times is relentlessly sad.

So even if the plot, about corporate cover-ups, nuclear weapons and government collusion seems a tad rote (the film is a remake of an awesome 1985 BBC miniseries that featured Joanne Whalley and Joe Don Baker), it’s Gibson and his character’s desperate journey that pull the whole thing together.

The dialogue is pulpy and terse without becoming clichéd: it’s not hard to cheer lines like “This isn’t about the police, okay? It’s about me knowin’ what I gotta know and you gotta tell me.” Winstone is a shadowy operative, a guy who keeps investigators “from connecting A to B,” and as written, he’s an enigma.

RETURNING TO THE EDGE: Not only does Gibson return to acting after focusing on directing (2004’s The Passion of the Christ and 2006’s Apocalypto) and his well-documented personal troubles; but director Campbell cut his teeth directing the original miniseries 25 years prior. (Warner Bros.)

— DENNIS WILLIS

Author: Dennis Willis

Dennis Willis is an award-winning producer, TV host, producer, director, editor (he preferred Avid until a torrid affair with Adobe Premiere, and the rest is history), author and film critic (print and radio). Dennis produced and hosted the TV programs Reel Life, FilmTrip, Soundwaves (1983-2008) and produces the annual Soundwaves Xmas program. He is currently the film critic on KGO Radio in San Francisco, and a member of both the San Francisco Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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