Edge of Darkness is a 2010 film adaptation of the 1985 BBC television series of the same name which were both directed by Martin Campbell of The Mask of Zorro, Golden Eye, Casino Royale and the soon-to-be-released Green Lantern fame. If you want to reintroduce a product into a new generation of fans…………ahem………..Mel Gibson…ahem…Martin Campbell is the man to call.
The film opens with Boston Detective, Thomas Craven (played by Mel Gibson) picking up his daughter Emma, from the airport who has returned home for a bit of a reprieve from her job. We soon learn that Emma is quite sick. In preparing to take his daughter to the hospital, Emma is about to tell her father something but is cut short as she becomes a victim of a violent drive-by shooting.
Craven and his police colleagues naturally assume that he was the target. Craven’s suspicions are aroused however once he finds a pistol in her late daughter’s nightstand. Craven is soon using his detective skills to unravel the mystery that surrounds his daughter’s death, leading to wackiness that does ensue.
Mel Gibson’s last starring role was in 2002’s Signs. Director M. Night Shyamalan apparently pulled Mel up on a lot of his acting ‘habits’. Mel took heed and time off between films to further concentrate on this advice while also continuing his directing career and, you know, his life.
A more demure Gibson is back in Edge of Darkness. Gone are the Riggs (and Hamlet I guess)‘crazy’ twitches and emotive characteristics, Gibson gives a grounded performance to a character that enjoys quite a subtle arc; from cautious, doting loving father to investigative detective and finally a full fledged locomotive of revenge and final judgment.
The story is a refreshingly simple conspiracy film (oxymoron perhaps), and is more about the procedural unraveling of a mystery rather than a straight-out-and-out revenge film, a la Payback.
For me however, Mel’s private life dominates the character he plays in this film. He does his best with a Boston twang, however this seems forced and is also distracting. Perhaps this may be a technically sound accent (although I think the brothers Affleck and Mat Damon do a damn better one) but one that may have been served with an American actor and not one trying to prove that he does in fact have the tools of the trade after resting on his acting laurels for so long. Director Martin Campbell chose to base the film in Boston, Massachusetts, America, unlike the television series which was based in England. Campbell has stated that "the idea was to transfer the story to a different time and place rather than just repeat what we did in England,". He goes on to state however that "Boston seemed like the perfect location because it does have a whole English, Irish signature on it." This begs the question, why relocate the film at all?
The strong Boston accent is not the best marketing strategy either, with neutral American being the norm. Unlike films that have stories grounded deep in their environments like Gone Baby Gone and The Departed, I don’t see why this story was restricted to one particular location over the other.
That all said, the film had a surprisingly grounded performance from Mel Gibson. I admit that Mel does make us feel extremely empathetic for Craven, thus elevating his character above the actor (well done Mel). The story was refreshingly straight forward; a grim conspiracy film in an age where twists and turns amongst camera shakes and over the top special effects are to be expected.
A strong 3 gun-metal bullets out of 5.
Check out the film at IMDB, and check out the trailer.
Luke McWilliams, August 2010