You had better decide whether you're hanging on the cross... or banging in the nails. – Craven
EDGE OF DARKNESS was high on my hit list for one reason: Mel Gibson. The man, who is one of my favorite actors and directors, is back in front of the camera after seven years of absence and I’m as happy as a crack-whore, whoring for crack when not on crack or whoring! And what better way to get a healthy slice of Mel; than via EDGE OF DARKNESS, a bleak, gripping and gory revenge cum political thriller.
Inspired by the 1985 British TV show of the same name and directed by the same duder who did the show (Martin Campbell), this sucka hit the spot for varied reasons. First, damn it was great to see Mel Gibson in action again. Now that’s a real man - I’m talking pure and uncorrupted testosterone at its mothefu*cking best. How refreshing! And he hasn’t lost his acting touch either as he gave yet another honest, moving and intense show that had me transfixed to the screen. Put a lesser actor in that role and you got a flick that loses its back-bone. This was Mel’s show and he was on top of his game! Gibson was well backed up too by the solid supporting cast in the house. Ray Winstone (Jedburgh) in particular was pure genius! He stole pretty much every scene he was in with his cool-cat, low key demeanor. I didn’t always understand what he was mumbling about but who gives a shit, the man owned that screen like no other.
Story wise, the flick did a lot at the same time. Yes it was about Craven’s attempt to uncover a mystery, but that jive was the least interesting of the lot for me. What got me all jazzed up was Craven’s thirst for revenge, him getting to know his daughter through his investigation, the “beat the clock” device that was eventually tossed in and Craven’s random hallucinations… yup Mel sees dead people (reminded me of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance), I’ll leave it at that! The aforementioned plot lines were communicated in an earnest, sometimes touching and visceral manner, mostly due to Mel’s astounding performance. The physical get downs came through as well! I wouldn’t call this flick action packed as it really took the time to build its lead character and its situation, but when the violence peeped out from its hiding place, it came in damn strong and executed to a T (whatever that means). Brutal is the word, Arrow happy is two more words, slap them in your pipe and puff away.
Visually, the shooting style was deliciously dry, to the point like a mammoth punch in the face. It brilliantly echoed the gravity of the happenings. This is not a funny story and Campbell’s approach supported that – much like its lead character, he was there to get the job motherf*cking done! Moreover, the striking cinematography helped make this bad-boy whoop further visual ass. It was somber, somewhat cold and it captured the Massachusetts setting ideally. Tag to that a powerful use of flashbacks, a couple of heart tugging moments that got to me (this is a sad movie man), biting dialogue (the exchanges between Gibson and Winstone were gold) and yet another aces score by Howard Shore and you get a well rounded celluloid uppercut!
On the dull side of the bullet, the narrative progression wasn’t always tops. The plot was at times confusing and lots of the side characters were too underdeveloped for my liking. Now that I think about it, if you remove the Ray Winstone character, 95% of the story wouldn’t be affected. The film’s biggest sin though was that it focused on a mystery that wasn’t much of one. It didn’t take brain surgery to know whom the culprit was (I figured it out at the 10 minute mark and so will you) and that took away from the flick. I kept waiting for Mel to catch up! At least I had a blast while doing so. Finally, some scenes were on hand solely to force some action into the mix, not a big deal but it needed to be said, so I said it.
So you gonna tag up with Gibson and take a ride? Yes? No? Your call! But, if it's all the same to you... I'll drive that tanker!