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Edge of Darkness Review

Back after six years between acting gigs, Mel Gibson stars in Martin Campbell’s Edge of Darkness, a sorrowful, gritty and intelligent revenge thriller. Not only is Mel back, he gives what may be (or is close to) his best performance as a grief-riddled father searching for answers about his daughter's brutal murder. Gibson is no stranger to revenge-style films, but there is no coyness or zany humor here or off-the-wall kookiness showcased in films such as Lethal Weapon or PaybackThis is a serious and touchingly tragic exercise that has been unfairly lost in the shuffle of Gibson’s personal life and what may be viewed as clichéd material. A new life on home video is all one can hope, as "Darkness" hits shelves Tuesday. What likely will throw some off is the lack of Taken-style slaughter. This is more a political thriller, punctuated with calculated instances of brutal violence and it is that deliberateness that makes it a better film than many of its ilk. Joining in with an expectedly stellar performance is Ray Winstone as a shady government operative who drifts in and out of Detective Craven’s (Gibson) investigation. His scenes with Gibson are often the best sequences in Edge of Darkness and with ample intelligent fist-pumping one-liners a sense of entertainment is never lost in self-seriousness. The plot of Edge of Darkness is complex to be sure, but it is not convoluted or confusing in any way. Also to its credit, shameless exposition is not used to forward the story and certain plot points that are left unresolved in a satisfying manner. After Craven’s daughter Emma is gunned down in cold blood, he begins to look into the government defense contractor for whom she was employed. As layers become stripped away, he uncovers a high-ranking conspiracy which begins to mount both with regards to body count and danger. When the political conspiracy aspects of the film give way to revenge style leanings, the instances of violence are uncompromising and jarring. With Gibson behind the gun, so to speak, his now grizzled face and fierce sorrowful stare are nothing but perfect. Gibson nails his Boston accent which sometimes is so thick we nearly require subtitles. But I can’t fault him for putting everything into what may be his comeback role. Director Martin Campbell who helmed two of the best James Bond features with Goldeneye and Casino Royale had a hand in the British miniseries upon which this film is based. Some of whom are familiar with the source material have criticised the compression into such a short (relative to the miniseries) running time. Not having been privy to that show, I find nothing but an intelligent thriller has come from the adaptation. With his foot now back in the game, here’s hoping we see more of Gibson in front of the camera; his charisma and acting chops would be greatly missed if he were to fade again. Rating: 8/10 Edge of Darkness Directed by Martin Campbell Written by William Monahan, Andrew Bovell Starring: Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston Other Player Affinity Reviews Steven thought: "Mel Gibson returns to suitable form in Edge of Darkness. It’s not that anyone doubted his prowess, but for some reason, we expected him to be rattled after eight years off which included his infamous DUI. The role of police detective Thomas Craven works for him. Heaps of praise are not warranted here, but this complicated mystery is a decent flick that he pilots with ease. The premise is Taken mixed with your typical corporate and government cover-up thriller. The former is Gibson’s specialty: adding some emotion to the hardened cop role, and these days he comes at a cheaper price than Bruce Willis. The latter is writer William Monahan’s specialty, the writer who weaved together the many characters of “The Departed” into a top-notch suspense film. The issue is the two don’t work in tandem as well as they should. It feels like two scripts that someone tried to make into one. The better-executed part is by far the conspiracy. Considering her father’s motivation is in avenging her murder, not in exposing the cover-up, however, the signals are mixed. By the time we are wrapped in the mystery, we become far less interested in Craven’s internal struggle and Gibson’s performance loses weight. Nevertheless, Edge of Darkness will grab your attention in spots and on occasion floor you with its thorough knowledge of police department infrastructure, protocol and information access and Gibson does what he always used to, keep it real with a likable protagonist." Rating: 6/10    Dinah thought: "Edge of Darkness is a crime drama that fails to meet up to the revenge thriller it was compared to in marketing, Taken. It is a slowly paced film (evidenced by a movie patron in the row ahead of me being startled awake at the sound of his own snoring). Still, Mel Gibson is an adept actor, mastering the beaten down but proud character he portrays – and with a wonderful Boston accent. Unfortunately, he spends more time taking names than kicking ass. Rating: 3/10 Player Affinity Composite Rating: 5.6/10 


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