Review: Edge of Darkness
PLOT: Thomas Craven is a single father to his twenty-four year old daughter Emma. He is also a veteran homicide detective who seemingly plays by the book. But when Emma is viciously murdered right in front of her dad, he makes it his priority to find out who murdered her. Along the way, he discovers there are many things that Emma did not share with him, and that the reason she was killed may be much darker than he had ever expected.
Mel Gibson has a knack for playing troubled men. As an actor, he has always appeared comfortable as a man who will do whatever it takes to right a wrong. So it is certainly no surprise that his much anticipated return to the silver screen would be something like EDGE OF DARKNESS. While the trailers may have audiences expecting this years TAKEN, that is not necessarily the case. Edge feels just a bit smarter and edgier than last years hit. While Liam Neeson proved his action hero status with Taken, Gibsonís latest isnít looking to be a fast paced, action hero worthy adventure. The thrills here are much darker, and while it might not be action set piece after action set piece, it surely packs a punch. When something does happen, it feels like a knuckle to the audienceís proverbial gut. This is a riveting and tension filled tale of revenge and cover ups.
Martin Campbell returns to familiar territory with Edge of Darkness. In 1985, he directed the UK mini-series of the same name. Coming from the BBC, I guess the sometimes quiet nature of the recent incarnation isnĎt all that surprising. There is a subtle quality to this revenge fueled drama. It builds slowly, but it is never dull. We find a longing in homicide detective Thomas Craven, thanks to some creatively used flashbacks and home movies featuring his young daughter. She is all grown up now, as Craven picks her up to bring her home for a visit. While she isnít talking too much, there is clearly something wrong with Emma (Bojana Novakovic). Before you know it, she is shot and killed right before her fatherís eyes. It is a bloody and violent death, and it is all too quickly assumed that the intended victim was Thomas.
From there, it couldíve been a simple story of vengeance. But is isnít. I wonít delve too deep into the narrative because there is too much to learn. I will say that Campbell, who also gave us the fantastic rebirth of Bond in CASINO ROYALE, brings a shocking level of excitement to the screen. At one point, I thought to myself, ďHoly sh*t! This is a great movie!Ē. It was an incredible reaction, but a pleasant one. Rarely does on-screen violence feel as potent and unnerving as it does here. Too many times, modern day action films rely on the shakey cam effect, and the overuse of bullets and brawn. As Craven gets deeper and deeper into the mystery surrounding his daughters murder, there seems to be more in common between this and the classic crime films of the Seventies and the early Eighties. There is a self assuredness here that is a refreshing change of pace from the modern day action noir.
I have to give credit to those involved in the sound and score. Nearly each and every moment of suspense is made even more successful thanks to the incredible sound design. Rarely does a single gun shot feel as massive and terrifying as it does here. You donít need a series of loud blasts to create power. All you needed here, was the fine score by Howard Shore, and that intense silence that leads up to a brutal act. The sound plays a big part in building the intensity. This is a thrilling ride on many levels. It also proves that you can revisit the paranoia filled thrillers of long ago, and they can be made with skill and feel just as relevant as they would have thirty years ago. Add to that the sheer intensity that works as a drama, and as a violent thriller.
Another key to this films success is the wonderful use of both Mel Gibson and Ray Winstone. I would have to say that Mr. Winstone may be one of the best character actors working today. It is the relationship between the two men that keeps the audience questioning the choices made at every turn. Each moment the two spend together make for one hell of a showdown. Winstoneís Jedburgh is a rich character that teeters somewhere between right and wrong. And once again, the man delivers a terrific performance. Not to take anything away from Mel. This is easily one of the best films of Mel Gibsonís career and his performance is right on target.
I found very little to dislike in Edge of Darkness. But I do question the advertising. This is not Taken. It takes a more dramatic approach as opposed to being action heavy. Iím sure some people will feel a little cheated when they donít necessarily get what they are expecting. So consider yourself warned. This may not be the film you think it is. But if you are looking for a great film that also happens to be a worthy comeback for Mel Gibson, you donít need to look any farther than this. My rating 9/10 -- JimmyO