Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Edge Of Darkness

Year: 2010
Director: Martin Campbell
Cast: Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Bojana Novakovic

Did you know that Mel Gibson hasn't had a starring role in a movie since Signs back in 2002? Between that and now, he stepped behind the camera and made, among other things, the controversial The Passion Of the Christ and the primal Mayan adventure flick Apocalypto.

So after eight years Gibson is back in front of the camera again, in a role very familiar to him.

In Edge Of Darkness, which is based on the British TV miniseries of the same name, Gibson plays Tom Kraven, a Boston cop who is a single father to his daughter Emma. One day, he greets Emma from the train station and shortly after, she starts throwing up badly. Before he can take her to the hospital though, someone shows up at his doorstep and shoots her dead.

Initially, Tom thinks that he was the target, being a cop and all. But after doing some digging, he realises that Emma may have been the one the killer was after. Tom looks into Emma's contacts as well as her employers. The company where she works happens to be a nuclear research facility with shady dealings.

Eventually Tom runs into a man named Jedburgh, whose job primarily is to clean up any mess that would put powerful people in trouble with the law. Jedburgh ought to be stopping Tom from investigating his daughter's death, but helps him instead out of his own motives. But things don't get easier for Tom as Emma's friends start ending up dead...

Martin Campbell has done great things, like making The Mask Of Zorro and successfully rebooting James Bond with Casino Royale. Here, his job is to not only reboot his own TV series into a film, but make Mel Gibson watchable again. I can't say much about the first part, not having seen the TV series before, but he does succeed in bringing Gibson back to doing what he does best.

Admittedly, this role isn't a stretch for Mel Gibson, as this is not the first time he's played an aggrieved father (Ransom, The Patriot). But anyone who has lost a loved one tragically, or being able to imagine it vividly, can relate to Gibson as he brings Tom Kraven's grief and obsession for justice to the fore. As usual, Gibson drives the plot with his prime emotional performance. Ray Winstone is effective as the mysterious Jedburgh, though it's not one of his best roles. I don't think he's recovered from the abysmal Indiana Jones 4 or voicing Beowulf just yet.

However the film is not without flaws. The plot drags a bit in the middle third of the film, as Campbell spends a fair amount of time on Tom reminiscing of his past with his daughter, as well as hearing her voice occasionally when he's alone. This does add to Gibson's performance, but it ought to be used sparingly. The plot itself also gets sort of lost at times, when there are scenes that make you wonder why it was there, or why certain actions were done or if it was relevant. Oh, and there's the violence which can be quite unflinching.

So mostly what I can take away from Edge Of Darkness is Mel Gibson. The movie needs some polishing, and this obviously isn't one of Gibson's best work, but there's no doubt that he can still be the lead character in a film and run with it. (3.5/5)

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