The Potato on the Edge…of Darkness

Mel Gibson is back in action again as veteran Boston cop Thomas Craven in Martin Campbell’s tight thriller “Edge Of Darkness”.  The story is simple: Cop tries to reconnect with his daughter, before he can, she’s gunned down outside of his home. He thinks the shot was meant for him, but as he digs deeper he finds that his daughter was not the innocent baby girl that he remembers, and goes on an increasingly futile quest for revenge against her killers.  I say futile because the movie becomes more than just a revenge tale as the plot thickens.  Evil government contractors, evil weapons corporations, dirty cops, dirty lawyers, and dirty politicians all come into play during “Edge Of Darkness”.

Even for being in his fifties, Mel Gibson looks like he’s seen better days.  I also don’t approve of his personal life choices. Going into the film, I was worried that I couldn’t divorce “Mel Gibson: Actor” from “Mel Gibson: Asshole.”  At first, when Tom tries to reconnect with his daughter Emma, all I could do was think: “I just bought a ticket to see a movie starring the guy who dislikes Jews and likes to comment on women’s body parts in a less than flattering manner.” Ok, so my thoughts were a bit harsher, but that’s not the focus…right?  I started connecting with the film as soon as Emma was brutally gunned down by a shotgun on the doorsteps of her father’s house.  Mel Gibson may be, well, Mel Gibson, but he’s still got it. His presence has only become more intense with age, and I found myself rooting for his character all the way to the film’s violent climax.  I hope this marks a return to form for the actor, and I wouldn’t mind seeing him in more movies.  As far as supporting performances go, it’s hard to tell if Mel Gibson is a supporting actor in his own movie.  More characters and villains start popping up from this way and that, and they all do a fine job in their limited parts.  Danny Huston turns in another genuinely (if not over the top) evil performance as malevolent CEO of the Haliburton-esque company called Northmoor.  As government spook with a (possible) heart of gold Jedburgh, Ray Winstone sufficiently creeps and charms.  “That guy” actor Jay O. Sanders is also very good as Gibson’s friend and fellow Boston police detective with a secret of his own.

Martin Campbell could direct a movie like this in his sleep.  The action beats are all there, the sets are believable, the tension is felt, and the cinematography is solid.  Campbell has directed better in better pictures, but it’s a fine film to further pad to a great career.  The film doesn’t come close to “Casino Royale” or “The Mask of Zorro” or even “No Escape”, but it’s certainly better than “The Legend Of Zorro”, “Beyond Borders”, or “Vertical Limit”.  The script, penned by William Monahan, is full of Bostonian references, snappy dialogue and plot twists (it better be, after all, he did win an Oscar for writing “The Departed”).  Monahan could be the next David Mamet if his career continues on the same path.

Overall, I liked this film more than I thought I would, and I’m glad that I gave it a chance.   If you like action thrillers or Mel Gibson or both, I recommend renting “Edge Of Darkness”.