If thereís any reason to watch Edge of Darkness, itís Mel Gibson, returning to acting in a starring role for the first time since 2002ís Signs. A lotís happened to him since then, and because itís been so long since weíve really seen him, the years weigh heavily on his face. You can see life in the craggy lines around his eyes, you see a man whoís experienced the world and been changed by it. Edge of Darkness uses all of that to its advantage, in the story of an angry cop and father who sets out to solve the mystery of his daughterís brutal murder. If only Edge of Darkness had kept it simple, if only Edge of Darkness had simply left the story at that. Instead it spirals down into a pit of political questions about nuclear disarmament, terrorism, and eventually even the afterlife. What should have been a straightforward revenge flick, the story of a weary father whoís lost everything he cares about in life, becomes something more complicated and infinitely less interesting.
At the center of it all though, thereís Mel, photographed by director Martin Campbell as a man hunched over inside an oversized trench coat. He plays Boston Detective Thomas Craven and when we meet him, heís bringing his daughter home from the airport. Her visit doesnít last long, before sheís brutally murdered by an unknown assailant. The media assumes Craven was the killerís intended target, a bitter criminal out for revenge against the cop who arrested him, but Craven isnít so certain.
Rather than deal with his horrific loss, Craven does the only thing he knows how to do, and goes to work. He blocks out the rest of the world, puts his brain in cop mode, and starts investigating his daughterís murder with ruthless intensity. Campbell letís Gibson look small and tired in front of his camera, but not so when he thinks of his daughter. Others tower over him, but when heís angry or on the scent of a vital clue, Craven seems no less intimidating. If only Edge of Darkness were worthy of him.
Great though Gibsonís portrayal is, the story around him is not. Itís full of plot holes and unbelievable logical gaps, the unforgiveable kind that pull you out of the movie and stick inside your head. I walked out of the theater wondering why anyone would poison someone and then hire an assassin to shoot them in the head, not impressed with Melís character work. Why waste the poison, if youíre just going to blast them with a bullet? Even worse than those examples of fuzzy scripting is the movieís insistence on trying to be so many things at once. Most of the filmís espionage elements simply donít work, itís as if theyíre happening in a different movie. Gibsonís gruff but kind cop doesnít belong in the same world with wine drinking, subtle British spies and he wouldnít know what to do with a ghost story if he was in one, which in a way he almost is.
By the time it draws to a close, the script no longer seems to do with itself, and as it runs out of gas it throws everything it has left against the camera in one big, ridiculous splat. Gibsonís performance is stripped down and simple. Edge of Darkness should have been too. Instead itís complicated and stupid, a waste of Melís considerable talents and worse, a waste of your time.
Reviewed By: Josh Tyler
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