6 February 2010

Movie Review: Edge of Darkness


Edge of Darkness
2010, 117mins, 15
Director: Martin Campbell
Writer (s): William Monahan, Andrew Bovell
Cast includes: Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Bojana Novakovic, Shawn Roberts
Release Date: 29th January 2010

Not since he was spooked by aliens in 2002 via M. Night Shyamalan’s “Signs” has Mel Gibson had the lead role in a major motion picture. Having taken a few years out to direct two movies of his own and generally act in various anti-social ways the actor is now back with “Edge of Darkness”. Adapted from a 1985 television property of the same name “Edge of Darkness” isn’t the storming return fans of Mad Mel might have been hoping for. An unexciting and lifeless thriller; “Edge of Darkness” is the years first real case of potential greatness being turned into garbage. I wanted to like the feature but nothing really works and Gibson himself has rarely been worse than he is here.

Thomas Craven (Mel Gibson) is a Police Detective who at the films start loses his daughter to a masked assailant wielding a powerful firearm. Craven initially suspects he was the target, though a bit of snooping leads him to become more doubtful. His daughter had been feeling ill and acting irrationally before being shot and the panic ridden state of her boyfriend all but confirms it was she and not him who was the target. Craven investigates her place of work and suspicions immediately rise given the secretive nature of the operation, and he is reduced to taking justice into his own hands with the subdued help of government agent Jedburgh (Ray Winstone).

“Edge of Darkness” is that most frustrating of things; a mystery without intrigue. Everything the plot offers is brutally obvious from the outset, with only brief instances of uninspired action to break-up the tedium. As soon as you see Danny Huston in a suit and working for a covert nuclear operation it’s not hard to fathom in which direction “Edge of Darkness” is headed and where the enterprise will culminate. I’m not familiar with the TV work on which it’s based but given it’s respectable reputation I’ll just have to assume it’s superior or simply of its time. This 2010 version feels outdated and obvious, a state not helped by a routine and one dimensional Mel Gibson performance.

The picture is helmed by Martin Campbell last seen doing sterling work with “Casino Royale”, now fully boring us to tears with this tripe. Campbell directed the original miniseries and maybe a labour of love brought him back to revisit the story but sadly this retelling is essentially just another lacklustre remake. Apparently the 1985 TV version ran at six hours, so it’s baffling to behold that at just under two; “Edge of Darkness” 2010 feels so baggy and overlong. It’s a turgid watch filled with workmanlike action and some of the most unadventurous plotting I can recall from a recent thriller. For large portions of the film I was close to falling into a deep slumber, as Campbell fails to do anything of note to mark this out as better than poor. Gibson doesn’t make Craven a fully rounded or sympathetic character, he’s all grimaces and hardboiled interrogation sequences with little added depth or feeling. Ray Winstone just turns out the same bullish and snarky performance he always does and Huston is laughably slimy and cartoonish as the *potential* villain of the piece.

The musical compositions and visual look are often black and gritty and like any proper revenge thriller there is an ungodly amount of moody weather and violence. It is possibly the success of “Taken” this time last year that triggered studios to back this project, after all “Edge of Darkness” also features an armed middle aged man setting out to avenge his daughter. Yet in comparison to this “Taken” feels like an electrifying time at the cinema and considering the fact I wasn’t particularly fond of that film, it sort of emphasises how dissatisfactory “Edge of Darkness” is. It’s the worst sort of nuts and bolts thriller and one that ought to be avoided. Sure there are a few unexpected blindsides on route to the climax but as you leave the theatre “Edge of Darkness” will have fulfilled every prediction you made in the opening 30 minutes. That is not good filmmaking.

A film review by Daniel Kelly, 2010


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