Jan 2010 29

Mel Gibson with Martin Campbell returns from a long drought of staring in a picture with the revenge thriller Edge of Darkness which allows Gibson to do some nice work but falls flat pretty much everywhere else.

Gibson plays Craven, a Boston police detective, whose daughter almost instantly upon her return home for a visit is almost instantly killed by in an assumed botched attempt on Craven’s life.  Craven quickly dives into the case and tries to find out what really happened as he feels he has no enemies and begins to uncover his daughter’s past which is under vary high surveillance.  Realizing Craven is getting close, and unknown associate enlists a mysterious “fixer” to put a handle on the quickly brewing situation.  This “fixer”, Jedburgh points Craven in the direction of his daughters boss Bennett as he thinks he might be to blame for the events that are unfolding.

From here the film takes on a rather convoluted and contrived path that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and really feels like a bit of a hodgepodge of scenes.  It almost feels like the filmmakers were just taking ideas for scenes and running them back to back with little to no reason or connection to the previous scenes.  And I will give the filmmakers a bit of credit as a few of the scenes are rather clever and cool in concept but rarely are executed with a complete lack of logic in a number of situations.  The film’s pacing is also really quite slow for a hell bent revenge tale and while Gibson pops when he needs to the overall affect they are going for never really resonated with me and I was left feeling rather, eh.  In fact, the ending couple scenes are so preposterous that I was practically shaking my head at them when I am supposed to be getting all jacked up, somehow the missed the mark.  The whole Jedburgh plot-line in general is just extremely contrived and unnecessary and by the end you realize why it is in there, so they could tie up some loose ends for Craven, but other than that, Jedburgh mumbles a couple one liners and is there solely to move the plot forward; we never feel that he is this ominous threat lurking over Craven’s every move.

The dialogue in the picture is also quite atrocious and laughable at times with the one liner set ups and cheesiness of them all.  A couple of the lines work, but for the most part you will find your self chuckling at the one liner’s rather than with them.  The couple of action beats or chase scenes that pop up are quite well done it just stinks that we aren’t invested enough to care or they nullify their purpose on their own as it ends and nothing really comes of it.  I was actually expecting a bit more action coming from Campbell, but this is not “Casino Royale” or “Taken,” and it mostly sticks to the who done it thriller nature of the plot.  The flashback gimmick employed to build a relationship with Craven’s daughter didn’t work for me either, it was executed fairly well (besides the last bit being a bit much for my taste) the emotional impact just fell flat like much of the picture.

The actors are adequate in their roles with Gibson really standing out as Craven and making us remember why he is a great movie star.  Gibson still has his wit, charm and bad-ass card on his resume and he uses them all too good effect.  Ray Winstone plays the illusive Jedburgh and is unintelligible for many of his lines but is still kind of a badass along the way.  Like I said earlier, his character is kind of pointless but WInstone at least makes a likable character out of him.  And Danny Huston, you don’t have to take every sleazy corporate bad guy role you offered, I know you rock at it and have a variety of other skills, but you see the character’s arc coming from a mile away because Huston is in the role.  The rest of the cast is average or doesn’t really have a whole lot to do, though the activist lady who was a friend of Craven’s daughter throws up one of the most laughable and awful turns I have seen in sometime.

In the end, The Edge of Darkness is a flat and not terribly thrilling revenge thriller.  Gibson makes a nice comeback but he can’t save this contrived and convoluted tale that has little meaning or direction for a lot of its scenes.  The pacing drags and their isn’t a lot of action, so buyer bewared if that is what you were expecting because what you will get is a mediocre revenge tale that will be forgotten in due time.

Edge of Darkness is a D+


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