Friday, June 25, 2010

Movie Review: Edge of Darkness(2010)

Edge of Darkness: Mel Gibson back in formRating: 3 out of 5*Starring: Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston and Bojana NovakovicDirector: Martin CampbellJune 25, 2010 : It’s been more than seven years since Gibson starred in a film and, like some of his fellow action icons from the 80s, he’s no longer the hunky young brawler. But he hasn’t lost his punch – and he has a relatively worthy vehicle with “Edge of Darkness,” based on a British mini-series of the 1980s.He’s also got a group of pros surrounding him, beginning with journeyman director Martin Campbell (who directed the original) and writer William Monahan (“The Departed”). They put together a solid, gritty revenge story of a father looking for payback after the murder of his daughter.The father is Boston cop Tom Craven (Gibson), a widower whose only daughter comes home for a visit for the first time in a while. She’s got a job somewhere in Massachusetts far enough away that she has to take the train home (though close enough that Craven can drive there without too much trouble). But daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic) is obviously not well. She’s vomiting at unexpected moments (though she claims not to be pregnant) and, finally, admits that there’s something she has to tell dear old dad as he starts to drag her out of the house to the emergency room. But as they walk out the front door, someone shouts “Craven!” and unleashes a shotgun blast that blows her back into the house. Initially convinced that Tom was the target and Emma the unintended victim, Craven starts investigating, even as he tries to piece together the life about which his daughter has been so secretive. She’s been working at a government –funded research lab and is saddled with secrecy vows – but he slowly begins to assemble a picture of what she’s been into and who might have wanted her – not him – dead.“Edge of Darkness” isn’t a great film but it’s a crisply efficient one that’s almost always engrossing, thanks to the murder in Mel’s heart and the cool command of the film’s most mysterious figure: Jedburgh, played with teasingly controlled menace by Ray Winstone. He’s a fixer, but for who and fixing what? Winstone draws us in and keeps us guessing, even as the script unfortunately gives away a bit too much about his shifting loyalties and motivation.In some ways, this is a predictable tale, filled with moments in which you know that someone who has just helped Craven is going to meet a bad end. The writers go a little overboard on the sentimentality. Gibson has been doing revenge virtually from the start of his career, beginning with “Mad Max” and going through the “Lethal Weapon” series and “Ransom” – hell, he even played Hamlet, the archetypal vengeance-seeker. He’s perfected the easy-going guy who you don’t want to push, though here he’s playing an aging homicide detective who seems like no one’s idea of a fun guy. He’s got a strong cast around him as well, particularly Danny Huston as an oily CEO who knows more than he’s say, and the terrific Denis O’Hare as a fast-speaking, double-talking government official whose sole goal is confusing the issue.But Edge of Darkness is Mel’s journey, from start to finish. In this case, you’re more than happy to be along for the ride.


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