Starring: Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Shawn Roberts, Denis O’Hare

Director: Martin Campbell

Writer(s): William Monahan, Andrew Bovell

Cinematography: Phil Meheux

Original Score: Howard Shore

Rnning Time: 117 Mins.

Much has been made of Edge of Darkness being the return of the original 80’s badass, a man who has not appeared in front of the camera (other than in his scandalous endeavours) for 8 years, in which time he has seen many high’s (in his directorial skills) to match the public lows. But I am not here to judge an actor for his personal life, or misgivings, no this is about the powerhouse actor Mel Gibson, he who was one of the last true bona-fide Movie Stars,  like Cruise, Schwarzeneger and Willis, who seemed to die in the noughties and have their thunder stolen by method actors and/or comedy superstar ensembles. All of which raises the question, is Gibson back on top, can he carry a film and is he still a real badass of acting, and action…yes, there is a hell of a lot riding on Edge of Darkness.

Directed by Martin Campbell, from his own BBC miniseries, also called Edge of Darkness and starring the late Bob Peck in the Gibson role, like State of Play before it, take the series key elements and overall plot and condenses them into a satisfying feature-length plot, which while far from original is gripping and engaging throughout, throwing just enough curveballs into the mix to stop it feeling pedestrian and stale. Though, rather inevitably, it is Gibson who is the star proving that even after such a long absence his acting chops are as good as they have ever been.

That said, it is fair to say that the character of Tom Craven is hardly a stretch for the iconic actor, revisiting the  revenge motif seen in both Ransom and Payback, but there is an inevitable show of the actors age shining through now and Gibson looks determined and dogged in his pursuit of the corporation and goons that killed his beloved daughter. However etched into the lines that are now present in his face is the telling sign of a man on the edge and one of will stop at nothing to get the truth he seeks in vengeance while suffering silently in his grief in the only way he knows how, so while he won’t be troubling awards voters it is great to see him back doing what he does best.

There has been something of a suggestion, through trailers and marketing, that Edge of Darkness is a film akin to last years (literally) kick-ass action fest Taken which starred Liam Neeson, it is not and while a fair bit of pain it met out to those deserving of it Edge of Darkness treads a much more solemn line helped by the thoroughly “dirty” setting of Boston.

This is a city that has seen many of the latest and greatest thrillers emerge in recent years, The Departed and Gone Baby Gone being the stand-outs, lacking the gloss of LA and the more filmic locations of New York or San Francisco, Boston seems to give a gritty and real sense of murk without transgressing to specific suburban ares, à la New York’s rich/poor divide. Obviously without the steady and assured direction of Campbell the setting would matter little, but he is a director who can shoot a glossy big-budget film and give it some real grit and personality, one need only know he is the man to reboot bond not once but twice (Goldeneye and Casino Royale) for further evidence of this.

As the story follows Craven’s efforts of detection away from the beaten path the usual suspects of corrupt politicians, corporate skullduggery and more are unearthed leading us towards the final reveal, which while not quite a twist is satisfying and resists having an all action shootout in favour of more personal character based scenes. This isn’t to say there aren’t flurries of action, and when they come they are short and blunt with one scene providing what will likely be this years most “jump out of your seat moment”. 

If you were to scrutinise and draw a microscope over Edge of Darkness, which seems cruel as it achieves all it really set out too, it would be in the rather cloying way Craven looks back and hears his daughter, soem would argue this neccessary and in a fashion it may well have worked but it seems a little too forced to fully convince as a story-telling device, and while those surrounding Gibson are uniformly good, particular mention to Ray Winstone as a shadowy clean-up man, they often feel somewhat redundant as good as they are, that sai these eally are things you will likely fail to notice in the course of what is a very solid, if hardly groundbreaking, thriller and return to the fray for its star.

VERDICT

Edge of Darkness see’s the return of the original 80’s badass, Gibson is well and truly back with a solid and gripping revenge thriller that side-steps convention and delivers a something as satisfying as you could have asked for and one which enables you to forget that really this is just another man-out-for- revenge film.

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