Edge of Darkness
dir Martin Campbell
scr William Monahan, Andrew Bovell
prd Tim Headington, Graham King, Michael Wearing
with Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Bojana Novakovic, Shawn Roberts, David Aaron Baker, Jay O Sanders, Denis O'Hare, Damian Young, Caterina Scorsone, Frank Grillo, Wayne Duvall
release US/UK 29.Jan.10
10/US Icon 1h57
Edge of Darkness
Just shoot me: Gibson

winstone huston o'hare
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Edge of Darkness Based on the 1985 BBC TV series, also directed by Campbell, this dramatic thriller tries to pack so much into two hours that it ends up feeling thin and repetitive. But it's great to have Gibson back on screen.

Veteran Boston cop Thomas (Gibson) is trying to rebuild his relationship with his scientist daughter Emma (Novakovic) when she's viciously gunned down. Everyone suspects Thomas was the real target, but his investigation leads him into a conspiracy involving her job with a monolithic defence contractor run by the shady Bennett (Huston). Then he meets government clean-up expert Jedburgh (Winstone) and starts to realise the extent of what's gong on. Can he blow the whistle before they rub him out too?

The story kicks off quickly, throwing us with Thomas into a swirl of dark emotions. And for him, even as he uncovers this massive scandal, it's all about avenging Emma's untimely death. This allows Gibson and the filmmakers to dig a little deeper into the psyche of the central character, but it also lets the plot drift into Death Wish territory, irresponsibly implying that grisly revenge is somehow cathartic.

Gibson is terrific as the hollow, haunted Thomas, who sees and hears his daughter everywhere he goes. We identify with his pain, as well as the fact that he needs to be doing something rather than just sitting at home alone, as everyone advises him to do. And his interaction with the various side characters, both good and evil, is edgy and twisted.

The problem is that each scene features a long, mumbled conversation that's overloaded with plot exposition. Which isn't very interesting cinematically and weighs down the film with too much information at the expense of character development. Side roles like Jedburgh hint at larger storylines, but are harshly reduced in the transition to the big screen.

Even more troubling is the lapse in logic: the baddies merely need kill Thomas, who's roaming around unprotected and constantly standing in curtainless windows. Yet when they do catch him, they indulge in silly Bondian villainy that gives him a chance to escape. This kind of ludicrous plotting, plus a series of ultraviolent finales, undermines what could have been a thoughtful, provocative political thriller.

cert 15 themes, language, strong violence 25.Jan.10

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© 2010 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall