The bullet that killed his daughter was meant for Boston cop Thomas Craven. That’s what police brass and Craven himself think, but that’s not what the investigation finds. Clue after clue and witness after witness, the search leads him into a shadowy realm where money and political intrigue intersect. If Craven wasn’t a target before, he--and anyone linked to his inquiry--now is. Mel Gibson stars in his first screen lead in eight years, making Craven’s grief palpable and his quest for payback stone-cold and relentless. Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) directs from a screenplay co-written by The Departed
’s William Monahan. Gibson is back, taking us to the edge…and into the sinister darkness.
The good news is that Edge of Darkness
(no relation to the fine 1943 war picture of that name) brings back Mel Gibson in front of the camera for the first time in nearly a decade. Although he's grown creased and leathery and his thatch has thinned, the movie star who was Mad Max still has the charisma and gravitas to center a dodgy suspense tale and propel it to the finish line. Gibson plays veteran Boston police detective Tom Craven, who welcomes home daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic) for a rare visit, then sees her shot down at his front door. Because the gunman shouted "Craven!" and because a cop makes enemies, Tom assumes Emma took a bullet meant for him, which adds considerably to his grief and pain. But as he looks into the life of a daughter he loved yet scarcely knew, he discovers she'd been preparing to turn whistleblower on her employer, a corporation doing unsavory clandestine things for the government. Craven starts having oblique chats with a philosophical Brit named Jedburgh (Ray Winstone), who keeps turning up unexpectedly--in Craven's backyard at night, say--always giving the distinct impression that he could just as well kill a fellow instead of schmoozing. Their strange rapport, like Craven's tendency to mutter ironical asides as if in ongoing conversation with the departed Emma, is more intriguing than the conspiracy involving corporate skullduggery and a rogue assassination bureau. The bar for that sort of thing was set in post-Watergate days by Alan J. Pakula's The Parallax View
, and we're nowhere near its cinematic elegance or pervasive paranoia. Edge of Darkness
, based on a British miniseries from 1985, was directed by Martin Campbell, who also handled the six-hour original (and more recently the successful James Bond reboot Casino Royale
). Campbell does decent-enough work--the occasional bursts of "shocking action" do shock even as we know they're coming--but rarely exceeds generic requirements. For killing comparison among contemporary suspense films, catch Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer
, in which every frame unsettlingly conveys a world where disquiet is the natural order of things. --Richard T. Jameson