Edge of Darkness
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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
- Deleted/Alternate Scenes
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At any rate, what we do know is that Mel Gibson, Boston Cop, has seen his daughter shot down on his doorstep. The figuring is, that it was a failed attempt to get Mel, but things look differently once he begins to investigate. Gibson is fine as the Cop and Father, and there is some very solid support by a handful of featured players, and competent work by the remainer. Having just learned that this is based on a BBC television extended mini-series, I now understand the somewhat choppy nature of the screenplay; however, any elision of matter is hardly missed, at least by those like myself, who have never seen the original.
As played here, my personal feeling is that there was a bit too much heart and flowers in those remembered scenes with the daughter growing up: topping that by far, however, were the archaic early 20th Century scenes with the imagined daughter, particularly the last such; it brought back memories of Lionel Barrymore, Edward G. Robinson, Spencer Tracy and cadres of others in the silent and talkie era, who had to play that sort of thing straight. Takes a good actor not to gag on it.
Never mind, though, the movie is a good take on the old 30's cops and dirty politicians theme, the 'conspiracy' stuff is simply a translation of the old Mob-City Politicos and Dirty
cops theme, and it will likely hold the average viewer's interest throughout.