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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Edge of Darkness

Title: Edge of Darkness

Year of Release: 2010

Date Viewed: July 25th, 2010

MPAA Rating: R

After staying behind the camera for the majority of this decade, Mel Gibson finally returned to the big screen in a feature-length adaptation of the popular British mini-series; the appropriately titled Edge of Darkness. Director of the original series Martin Campbell returns to helm this one as well.

The story is told through the eyes of semi-retired Boston police detective Thomas Craven (Gibson). His life is turned upside down after his visiting daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic) is gunned down in Craven's home by a masked thug. Given Craven's history of upholding the law, it is initially believed that he was the intended target, likely from a crazed criminal with a bone to pick. But Craven becomes suspicious after finding a loaded gun in Emma's night stand. Perhaps there is a little more to this story than originally perceived. Or a lot more.

Craven does some digging into the past and discovers that Emma had been employed at Northmoor, a company that gathered resources for nuclear weapons manufacturing. Painted as a law abiding American organization, Northmoor is actually responsible for underground deals with foreign nations. Craven begins to suspect that Emma came across more information than what was ever intended for her to know and was the victim of a mission to silence her.

What Craven wants to know is who exactly was involved. Could her paranoid boyfriend have betrayed her? Did the head of Northmoor act alone? Can Craven's fellow officers or supposed enemy turned ally (Ray Winstone) be trusted? Only one thing is for sure. Craven will not rest until all of the pieces are connected.

Edge of Darkness has a modern film noir feel to it. Gibson's brown coat which he almost never takes off during the movie is a nice-fitting homage to the genre. Another nice touch is setting the film in Boston Massachusetts so Gibson can show off a new accent that also fits with the stereotypical Humphrey Bogart or Orson Wells detective type. Action scenes are used sparingly since the film favors developing the character of Craven and his cautious approach to seeking his answers. This movie is not like Taken where our hero decides to go all nuts and ask questions later. Craven prefers to consider each option carefully and only acts mightily if he feels there is no alternative. He is a lot easier to like than most other revenge thriller protagonists because he is more concerned about bringing the corrupt to justice instead of simply taking out his anger on them.

The film relies on Craven's questions and clue investigation to carry the plot forward. Various chases and sudden acts of violence are included to keep the audience on the edge of their seat. It works except for the fact that the audience is asked to suspend their disbelief a little too much. It's not that the actions are outrageous. It's that proper set-up is sacrificed for shock value. Pulling off a movie surprise attack only works if there is valid reason for the attacker's presence to go unnoticed.

Edge of Darkness is not afraid to embrace it's old school flavor. The plot is fast paced but not in the sense of modern thrills. You are expected to relate to Craven's burning need for answers. And when they finally come, that is where the audience adrenaline rush is felt. It prefers to be a crime drama instead of a crime action thriller. Some things are not as presented as smooth as the film would like, but the moments that do work really work.

Rating: 7

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