26
Feb
10

Movie Review: Edge of Darkness

It must be the “conspiracy” edge of darkness…

Starring Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Bojana Novakovic. Directed by Martin Campbell. Based on the British TV series of the same name created by Troy Kennedy-Martin

Dry, somewhat disjointed, but it picks up by the end.

Mel Gibson returns to headlining a film with this cinematic remake of the 1995 BBC TV series, “Edge of Darkness.” Gibson is Boston police detective Thomas Craven, a man who lives alone and on one particular weekend is waiting for his daughter Emma (Novakovic) to arrive. Emma goes to college and is a research assistant at a company called Northmoor. She doesn’t tell him exactly what she does except to say “I’m a glorified lab assistant.” Thomas is fine with that and things are going swimmingly until Emma pukes into an empty soup bowl and her nose begins bleeding. As they rush out of the house to go to the hospital a car pulls up and a guy in a mask shouts “CRAVEN!” before using a double-barreled shotgun to blast a hole through her chest. She flies backwards through the front door, the car peels off, and Thomas is left with his only daughter now dead.

Partners, friends, and other officers arrive on the scene and Craven is in a place he doesn’t want to be: the victim of a crime. His friend Whitehouse (Jay O. Sanders) tries to comfort him, saying that the Department will treat it as an “officer involved” incident. They expect him to take some time off for grieving purposes and they want to run through every file he has, spinning the idea that the gunman was aiming for Thomas instead of his daughter. Not believing that for a second, Craven goes out for answers with a side of vengeance.

Piece by piece we get to know Emma as Thomas gets to know the daughter he thought he knew. She worked for a company called Northmoor. At some point she became involved with a group of activists and had helped them get into, and out of, Northmoor. What Northmoor was doing and why, and how his daughter got involved in any of it, is the cloud of mystery Thomas is flying through.

Craven’s world is slowly dragged into the “conspiracy sphere”: bugged rooms, paranoid people, sharp dressed agents in SUV’s with tinted windows, etc (even though Mel starred in a film called “Conspiracy Theory,” he was relatively clueless in this one). Thomas traces a 9mm his daughter was carrying to her boyfriend Burnham (Shawn Roberts) who gives Thomas his daughter’s personal belongings duffle bag. Checking out her apartment he finds it broken into and her computer taken. Her best friend Melissa talks with him about Emma getting involved with the activists. She’s promptly killed after.

Enter Jedburgh (Winstone). He’s the guy that “stops people from connecting Point A to Point B,”; hired hitman, assassin, what-have-you. Jedburgh is brought in to keep tabs on Thomas Craven for Northmoor because Craven is the father of the girl considered a “security risk.” Thomas and Jedburgh meet, Jedburgh gives him an idea of who he is, Craven accepts this and continues doing what he does.

And finally the villain behind it all: Jack Bennett (Huston). Bennett is the head of Northmoor which not only keeps stock of items used for nuclear weaponry but its R&D division pumps money into the Massachusetts economy, and that’s just on paper. What the public doesn’t know and what we come to learn is that Northmoor is developing nuclear arms for foreign countries under their specs. Also, they gave “irradiated gas” to the activists and poisoned Emma Craven. Thomas is running out of options and against the clock as he tries putting the pieces together and exposing those who were complicit in his daughter’s death.

The movie is a long, slow train that heads for what could be called a “slambang” end. All the clues that are laid in front of us for the first hour slowly begin paying off and when the body count begins to rise, we see the “full extent of the conspiracy.” There are several twists and turns and by the end everyone dies. Everyone. (See also: “Hamlet,” “The Departed”)

Director Martin Campbell decided to re-adapt his 80’s British show in an American environment, choosing Boston because of its English and Irish influences. Campbell is known for previous drama/action movies such as “The Mask of Zorro,” and “Vertical Limit,” as well as the James Bond movies, “GoldenEye,” and “Casino Royale.” While “Edge of Darkness” does contain brutal realism within its violence (there are no pre-meditated vengeance camera shots) the acts are SUDDEN and the audience isn’t prepared, giving a sense of realism. Another plus for the movie is the fact that Campbell made Gibson’s character emote through most of the range of human emotions, even though his character is naïve (a Boston cop not knowing about conspiracy? Really?)

The major flaw for this film is the script. Watching it feels like someone edited the breathing room out of a TV show or rather constructed a film out of the best parts of one and structurally it’s apparent. According to reports the initial script had to be re-written to make it more “action oriented” and in doing so there’s a slapdash feeling to the pacing of scenes. The British sensibilities added to the story (the hitman confronting Craven, the voice of his daughter directing him to find justice) speak more to British films than American ones and could’ve been left out.

Can I honestly recommend this one? As long as you realize that it’s not the action packed movie advertised to you (nor is it really a psychological drama), you’re good to go. I would suggest matinee or the dollar theatre.

My grade: B-

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2 Responses to “Movie Review: Edge of Darkness”


  1. June 9, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Great blog!

    We just reviewed this one on our blog themoviebros.wordpress.com

    Stop by and check it out!

    Like


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