Monday, March 1, 2010

Edge of Darkness **1/2

Director: Martin Campbell
Cast: Mel Gibson
Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Bojana Novakovic, Denis O'Hare
Damian Young, Jay O. Sanders, Shawn Roberts

If there's something Mel Gibson knows how to do, it's being a movie star. As Boston detective Thomas Craven-on the hunt for his daughter's (Novakovic) killers-there's not a single moment where you can, or want to, take your eyes off of him.
He inhabits each frame with such a magnetic pull that you instantly forget what the actor becomes when he drinks and talks.
This of course serves this kind of movie well, considering its plot (based on an 80's British miniseries) makes no real sense and has nothing profound to say.
Because it involves ecological activists confused as terrorists, sinister CEOs (a slimier than usual Huston in this case), nuclear threats and Republican senators, it might be taken for some sort of comment on the current state of the world.
Truth is that in this case you can almost ignore the factual context and imagine this is a noir throwback or a B movie with absolutely no serious intentions other than to take a simple concept and expand it for entertainment's sake.
"This isn't about police, this is about me knowing what I need to know" says Craven to a suspect, in the process describing what the movie is.
The whole plot is centered on whether he will make justice to his daughter or not, it doesn't take long into the film for any clever audience member to wonder why the hell doesn't anybody just kill Craven.
Later on the film teases us about this when one of the characters suggests justice should be made so "convoluted that everyone has a theory but no one has the facts".
Yes, the writers could've killed Craven at any moment and have dozens of ways in which to cover up his crime for the sake of the "bad guys" but to do so would be to rob us of the pleasure of watching Gibson, trenchcoat and all, in an old fashioned revenge movie.
Screenwriter William Monahan could've fashioned the plot into something like his terrific "The Departed" (the Boston setting and the last setpiece give off the influence) but in doing so Craven would've had to become human, instead of the melodramatic archetype he actually is.
When it comes down to basics "Edge of Darkness" is nothing but a tale of how a father would do anything for their child (the fantasy sequences with his daughter being completely redundant) and how to do so would be willing to become "the guy with nothing to lose and who doesn't give a shit".


Castor said...

You are on a movie review rampage. Unfortunately, I haven't even been to the movie theater this year yet...

Luke said...

Agreed (with Castor)! And I must say, I'm kind of terrified to see this movie... Mel's got a little permanent crazy on his face these days, and I just want to maintain my Conspiracy Theory / Bird on a Wire simplistic image of him intact... :)

Jose said...

Come on guys, it's a perfect time to go the movies! Unless you're in awfully cold places of course.
But these months are great to just kick back, eat popcorn and have fun watching all the cheesy flicks they couldn't fit into last year.

You know Luke, Mel annoys me outside the movies and i thought I'd react the same way when I saw this. But he's just as simple and charming as ever and the weathered look he's gotten actually makes us like him more onscreen.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a great comment and for acting politically incorrect as it were by saying just favorable things about Mel Gibson. More and more people are these days. It brings some balance to the forever negatively colored debate. I loved the movie as well. Actually the best I saw in a very long time.
Mel Gibson gets interviewed about 250 times during the promotion of this film, more than 99 % of the interviews are average, they don't get mentioned, the few (literally) in which there is some irritation get re-run and re-run, with accompanying comments that lead us to believe he is acting "as a mad man" when he defends himself or gets irritated (like no-one else ever defends themselves, gets irritated or mutters a one-word profanity). This unbalanced reporting leads to a heavy misrepresentation of how he behaves in general and what he is like to be with. And that has been going on for a long time now. Everybody would get irritated by that at some point, whether they had misbehaved at one point or not. If they ask you to be fair and balanced, so should they.
And although some suggest it is shameful of him to defend himself or get irritated with THEM, he actually does not have an obligation to keep bowing his head and take beatings – just because they are shocked or irritated that he does not take on that role. He actually has every right to get irritated now and then and to stand up for himself. And it shouldn't get typecast as out of control either.
One incident in over 50 years of life for which he apologized is no match for the repeated hostility he gets met with, the demeaning and hurtful remarks he continually has to deal with, often delivered as so-called neutral remarks or just a joke. It is not Mel Gibson who is out of control, but the people who go on and on and show no remorse what so ever for doing so. And these people should not misrepresent their personal opinion that he is a bigot as a rational fact. If alcohol were a truth serum we could use it in court. It is not.

Jose said...

Thanks for your comment Anonymous. I agree with you, I think it's about time audiences stopped being so hypocritical and full of double standards when it comes to celebrities. Their job is to entertain us not be our parents or teachers.
I don't see why people like him or Tiger Woods have to apologize to society and even the congress for their personal lifestyle choices.
Because they drink and/or have mistresses it doesn't mean they are worse in their careers.
When it comes to Mel I prefer to enjoy his movies as an actor than obsess about what he's drinking or saying when drunk. We turn entertainment into a Roman circus too much too often.