Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Edge of Darkness

After some seven years away from the silver screen (but not the spotlight), Mel Gibson is back in action. Donning the ubiquitous trench coat and a Boston twang, Gibson plays Thomas Craven, your classic Irish Catholic veteran police detective (though one who has given up the booze), whose measured and solitary existence is razed by the gruesome murder of his visiting daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic*). The initial assumption that the gunman was really out for Thomas is soon undone as the increasingly untethered father traces the truth further and further up the political food chain.

25 years since Martin Campbell (Casino Royal) directed the critically acclaimed BBC miniseries Edge of Darkness, he has returned to make the feature film. Australian screenwriter Andrew Bovell (Lantana) and Oscar winner William Monahan (The Departed) relocated the action from Leeds to the streets of Boston, though the political and nuclear subplots prove as compelling today as they did back in 1985.

Following the adaptation of State of Play last year, it seems it’s boon time for the BBC, selling the feature rites to their back catalogue of miniseries. And like State of Play, Edge of Darkness suffers somewhat from the downsizing. At 116 minutes, the film certainly takes its time, and yet certain subplots and antagonists, including a creepy Danny Huston and an annoyingly enigmatic Ray Winstone aren’t mined for all their worth, while other translations, like Emma’s lingering presence, feel cloyingly sentimental.

Fans of Lethal Weapon, Payback or Ransom should be happy to see Gibson back to knocking heads and dealing vengeance. The film is also reminiscent of Liam Neeson’s recent turn in Taken, though Edge of Darkness takes itself much more seriously. Monahan and Bovell have crafted a character study along the lines of an old school noir, and while Gibson is no Bogie, he definitely lends gravitas as well as his gravely voice to a man with nothing to lose.

Edge of Darkness is a passable procedural thriller driven by solid performances and an intriguing, if undercooked premise. While it’s not quite a return to form, the film is welcome comeback vehicle for Gibson, who heralds the beginning of a new era by co-writing the closing song, performed by his new leading lady Oksana Grigorieva.

*Australia's own (via Serbia). I knew I recognised her, and thanks to IMDB I now know that it was as Tippi from Satisfaction.

Published on TheVine
Australian release date: 4 February 2010

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