Review: Edge of Darkness
PLOT: Thomas Craven (Mel Gibson) is a Boston detective who's daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic) has just come home for a visit. When she is shot right in his home, he thinks that he was the target. But as time goes on, he realizes her life was not what he thought it was, and her death was part of a much bigger conspiracy.
REVIEW: I find myself in a very odd position here. So I'm going to do something I not only shouldn't have to do, but something I'm still not sure is the right thing to do. I'm going to remind everyone that this is a review of the film and not the personal decisions and life choices of Mel Gibson. I'm saying this because the mere mention of his name produces a rather intense reaction in people, and I have been send email after email about it. So, there it is. I'm reviewing the movie. Just the movie.
Director Martin Campbell is redoing his own work here. I never saw the BBC series of the same name that he directed, but after seeing the film, I really want to go back and take a look. To be honest. I was not expecting to like EDGE OF DARKNESS. From the commercials, it seemed like I would be watching TAKEN with other actors. Which is fine, just redundant. But that is not at all what this film is. It's less about the revenge and more about the discovery of his daughter's life, and what she was trying to do with it.
This is a completely actor driven film. Take out Gibson and replace him with a lesser actor and the film would have fallen flat. For a conspiracy film, the story was pretty simple. And that gave the actors a chance to shine. The pace, and I mean this in a good way, was slow. Campbell took time to let the emotion of Emma's death really sink in. We watch Craven gaze at the house and remember his daughter's life in a way that, with another director and a (god, I love this term) masturbatory actor would have been self indulgent and tedious. With Gibson, you feel every moment. You see every quick, sharp stab of the pain of remembrance on his face. One particularly beautiful moment had him remembering a bonding moment as the child Emma encounters him shaving in the bathroom. It would take a far harder person than I not to get choked up here. This is the first starring role Gibson has taken in seven years, and he seems to have grown out of his tendency towards making faces. Everything about the performance was restrained and honest. Another notable performance came from Ray Winstone as Jedburgh, a man of questionable character who is hired to clean up after the company who hired him. And in my humble opinion, Winstone has yet to turn in a performance that is anything less than stellar.
The film was shot like a sixties cop drama, and the set reflected the choice. I found myself noticing little touches from the era, as though this man hadn't really bothered to buy anything new for himself in ages. The restraint in the camera work was refreshing. The violence, though brutal when it happens, was restrained as well. This is not your typical action movie. Howard Shore's score followed suit, supporting the film without overwhelming it.
In a time when the films grossing the most are 3D, CGI monsters, it was a relief to see what is, essentially, a good old, well acted story. Other filmmakers would do well to remember that, as pretty as the icing is on a wedding cake, no one wants to eat it if what's underneath is dry. Maybe I'm alone in this type of thinking. (Wait, just checked the box office numbers...seems that I am.)
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|Extra Tidbit:||Check out the final scene of the film and tell me it doesn't remind you of the end of BRAVEHEART. If you don't get it, email me at email@example.com and I'll tell you what I mean.|