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".