Doom Reviews Edge of Darkness

Doom Reviews Edge of Darkness




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Edge Of Darkness

Directed by:
Martin Campbell

Mel Gibson
Ray Winstone
Danny Huston
Bojana Novakovic

The most talked about topic of Edge Of Darkness will no doubt be Mel Gibson. The movie star appears in front of the camera for the first time in eight years after an extended period of controversy, and the question on everybody’s lips is simple, does Mel still got it? The answer is just as simple… Oh yes, he does.

Edge Of Darkness is the remake of a 1985 BBC mini-series that was also directed by Martin Campbell. A dark and gritty conspiracy thriller about a father seeking revenge for the murder of his daughter, it comes as no surprise that this would serve as the perfect comeback movie for Gibson, an actor who knows the part of revenge-seeking-father by heart, and he’s rarely played it better than here. The daughter of Detective Thomas Craven has barely come home before she’s shotgunned into oblivion by a masked killer. This is not an exaggeration. If you were ever looking for a situation that called for the description “shotgunned into oblivion”, you’ve found it here. Craven mourns, believing he was the intended target, but it wouldn’t be a conspiracy thriller if on his quest for the killer he didn’t indeed discover a conspiracy.

This conspiracy revolves around a government-sponsored private company researching atomic weapons. The company’s run by Jack Bennett (Danny Huston), a mean-grinning businessman who doesn’t seem particularly interested in throwing up even the slightest disguise of innocence. From the second he steps into frame we know he gave the order, and now we wait until Gibson can confirm it so he can give him his due. Caught up in the middle is a free agent by the name of Jedburgh (Ray Winstone) who is paid to handle the situation as he sees fit. Both Huston and Winstone belong to a group of actors forever stuck playing side-characters, but both do it with such excellence that their addition to the movie is unmistakable.

And yet the movie always remains Gibson’s show. He’s still as much a movie star as he was eight or even twenty years ago. A naturally gifted actor, he has an undeniable screen presence that captivates you from the very beginning and doesn’t let up until the movie’s over. In a time where the newest movie stars are picked by teenage girls who seek looks over talent, you would almost forget what a real movie star looks like, and Gibson is here to remind us. At 54 years old he still dominates the screen, playing his character with a ruthless intensity while remaining likeable to the end. We see his pain when he has visions of his daughter, and we believe he’s willing to kill when he cocks his gun, ready to unleash hell.

If only he unleashed more hell, because Edge Of Darkness is a thriller in the strict sense of the word. There is little action to be found in the almost two hour running time. The few action scenes that are there are outbursts, small but brutal. Director Campbell doesn’t shy away from grisly and bloody violence, possibly on advice of Gibson, no stranger to excessive movie violence himself. However, he who continues to hope for the moment Gibson stumbles upon a small army and starts his killing will be disappointed. Unfortunately, the person glad to hear this will be disappointed as well, because none of the suspense found in the original mini-series made its transition to the big screen either. Instead, the movie is something no man ever hopes for any movie to be, standard.

And what a terrible fate it is. As mentioned the movie does little to hide its antagonist, which means that instead of picking up the clues and trying to connect the dots, we already know where it will all lead. Rather than getting involved we thus spend most of our time watching Craven catch up with us, no matter what turns and twists the movie takes. The lack of suspense is enforced by the behavior of Craven, who never seems particularly afraid of being taken out, despite his investigation pointing out very clearly that his enemies can strike at any place at any given time. Would you walk calmly across the street enjoying a nice burger knowing they’re following your every move? Since Craven does, we never believe he’s in any real danger as he meets stranger upon stranger, each with a secret agenda.

I should add that this might make the movie sound worse than it really is. Campbell is a director with a firm grasp on his movies, and you’ll have to look hard to find a bad scene. At the same time his direction is too modest, which does not bring the movie down, but at the same time fails to lift it up either. As the movie floats lightly on this surface of perfect decency, it’s the strength of Gibson’s performance that will keep you watching. He’s an actor you wish never left, but at the same time you’ll immediately forgive his crazy antics that made him take a break in the first place. Because here he shows he is still a true movie star, and nobody can dislike a movie star as long as they are where they belong… on screen.


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