Edge of Darkness (2010)

Edge of Darkness opened today, Friday January 29th. My local cineplex has a 10:30 AM show and at just $5 a pop it was quite a bargain for a brand new feature. Mel Gibson portrays Boston Homicide Detective Tommy Craven. This is his first on-screen performance as the lead actor since M.Night Shyamalan’s Signs in 2002.

This latest version of Gibson is that he’s now an older man. He was born in 1956. The fact is that if Braveheart was being cast today, Mel wouldn’t have gotten to play the role of William Wallace.

But like Braveheart, as well as his other characters in Payback, Ransom, Patriot, and even the Mad Max series, Gibson will have a role wherein grievous harm was done to his family. This time, in EOD, within five minutes of the picture’s beginning, his daughter Emma is shot at the entrance to his home, and dies in his arms. That’s no spoiler as it was in the trailer.

The natural assumption, made by Craven, and his superiors on the police force, and the media is that there might be some connection between the shooting and Craven’s job as a homicide cop. And that he was the target.

But that would be too easy wouldn’t it? Pull the case files, look for a connection, check recently released from prison records…etc etc. This Boston police force had a rule, that if it was a member of the force that suffered the loss, he wouldn’t be permitted to work on the case. But this was waived, as it was thought that he was the intended victim and not his daughter.

So the grim, and resolute Gibson sets out to look into his possible connections ,  followed by looking for any possible connections via his daughter’s work colleagues, and friends to find out what was behind the shooting and why it happened. There’s your plot-line..  Emma was played by Bojana Novakovic (below).

EOD was directed by Martin Campbell, who has two James Bond films, including the recent début of Daniel Craig as Bond in Casino Royale, in his portfolio. So we know he knows his away around action scenes. His work here is very good. This film lacked the Bondian gadgets, gimmicks, and girls as well as the wisecracks. But you can’t find fault with the action, the pacing, or the direction. This is a thriller, and while it may not be one of those taut, edge of the seat kinds of action movies, it does keep you involved.

By the way, Campbell also directed Edge of Darkness, a BBC mini-series in 1985. That one was set in England, this one is in Boston and Massachusetts. But basically the stories are the same. And this isn’t even the only EOD connection, as you’ll find out later in this review.

There are a number of major plus factors in this film. First off, because he steals every scene he’s in, is Ray Winstone as Jedburgh who for lack of a better term is a ‘fixer’ who is available for hire by governments, corporations, and even individuals. He might even be working for two opposing clients in the same situation. He describes himself as someone who works behind the scenes in at least two instances.

  • “You have a problem – you go to the police. If they can’t help you, you then go to the FBI. If they can’t help you go to the CIA. And if they can’t help, you come to me.”
  • You know how in a case where you’re trying to make a connection between A and B and you can’t. Its because, I’m usually the guy who stops you from connecting A to B.”

Danny Huston is cast as the corporate biggie, comes from one of Hollywood’s ‘royal’ families. His grandfather, Walter Huston, an Oscar winner for his portrayal of a grizzled gold prospector in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, also appeared in a film called Edge of Darkness in 1943. This is little more than trivia as the pictures had nothing in common beside the title. Danny’s father John Huston, won two Oscars for Direction and Screenplay for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. You may also remember Huston as Noah Cross in Chinatown.

Any way Danny Huston sounds uncannily like his father. In this EOD, you probably will spot his character, Jack Bennett, as bad guy as his office is so huge, and so opulent, that you know he’s black-hearted. But there a whole host of other bad guys, and I’m not even counting the nameless goons, gunmen, and assorted henchmen.

The higher up we go into the corridors of power,  the layers of evil keep on stacking up higher and higher. As does the body count. At least twice in this film, someone said, “Everything is illegal in Massachusetts.” Which means, wherever you look, you’re going to find criminals.

Watch for Caterina Scorsone (above) as Melissa, a friend of Craven’s daughter, and Shawn Roberts as Emma’s boyfriend as they shine in their small roles.

I’ll have to say that while Gibson looks smaller and older, he hasn’t gotten any less tough, nor has his ability to be confrontational diminished at all. This is a very good film, and I do recommend it.