Holy wow, Mel Gibson’s in the movies again! Mel’s first lead role since 2002 sees him take on the role of detective Craven from the critically-acclaimed 1980s BBC series upon which Edge of Darkness is based.
Craven is a loving, if distant, father to Emma, a young research tech at a large defence contractor. When Emma is shotgunned on Craven’s front porch, it sets off a circus ride of intrigue and action that includes car chases, zinging bullets and an execution with a Glock and, improbably, a bottle of milk.
Edge of Darkness boasts generally excellent editing and cinematography. The dialogue is bright and snappy, and the sound is nothing if not impressive. At a time when audiences have become jaded by overwrought action and cookie-cutter surprises, this movie can still make you jump — even if it’s due more to fabulous camera work and sound than truly novel plot devices. In fact, there are a couple of moments where the film is so formulaic that it’s impossible not to know what’s about to happen. In one particularly burning example, Craven discovers a handgun among Emma’s things. At this point in Hollywood history, we already kind of know he’s going to find a gun, so it’s probably time to re-think how this sort of thing is framed. It’s also interesting to note that, whereas Craven packs a run-of-the-mill Glock duty sidearm, his daughter’s heat is a very swish stainless .45 calibre Springfield Champion, which is a thousand-dollar bruiser. To get nitpicky for a sec: A more pedestrian pistol in 9mm would probably have made more sense.
The film is well cast and shows moments of brilliance, in both Martin Campbell’s directing and in the acting: Mel’s definitely got his groove back, and Ray Winstone is riveting as a grade-A badass. There’s a great chemistry between Craven and his daughter, and Bojana Novakovic’s Emma is compelling even though her screen time is brief. After Emma’s death, times where Craven looks through her stuff are poignant rather than sappy, as are those where Craven re-lives simple moments with Emma as a child. Generally, the film deals with pathos in a tight manner, though this pretty much blows apart at the end, where the metaphors go over the top and the story simply moves along too quickly, presumably to tie up the loose ends before the credits come home.
The plot is definitely Edge of Darkness’s weakest link: There is so much stuff jammed into the film’s 117-minute runtime that some of the more interesting elements never get explored. Instead, the audience is treated to a well fleshed-out central plot, draped with the barest wisp of a story about the three bodies that float by in the film’s spellbinding opening scene, the hint of something huge and grim at Emma’s workplace, the ghost of an international intrigue subplot and a whole lot of Emma’s backstory that just never gets fleshed out. Such is the danger of trying to adapt a book or series to film: one just can’t fit everything in and have it rock like it should.
Details. On the whole, the film is an enthralling joyride and well worth the ticket price.