Gibson's return to big screen won't put audiences on ‘Edge’

2 1/2 out of 5 pitchforks

Published On:
Friday, January 29, 2010
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After taking several years off from acting to direct and harass Jewish people, Mel Gibson returns to the silver screen with “Edge of Darkness,” inspired by the short-lived television series from the ’80s.

Gibson gives a solid comeback performance, reminding us all what a dominating screen presence he can be. Unfortunately, the film itself is fairly routine and kind of a letdown.

If it weren’t for Gibson’s performance, “Edge of Darkness” wouldn’t be particularly memorable at all. Although he almost — just almost — saves the film, the picture never quite exceeds the average margin.

Gibson plays Thomas Craven, a Boston homicide detective. The only family the honest cop has is his adult daughter, Emma, played by Bojana Novakovic. Shortly after Emma returns to her hometown to pay her dear old dad a visit, she is killed in a drive-by shooting.

Craven is devastated, believing he was the intended target. He soon discovers, though, that his seemingly perfect daughter was part of a cover-up that cost the lives of three innocent people. Craven becomes determined to solve the mystery of his daughter’s murder by any means necessary.

What I appreciated about “Edge of Darkness” is that, unlike so many recent action pictures, the film is not merely a string of mindless chases. The movie actually attempts to tell a story and create characters. A majority of the characters are never fully realized though.

Ray Winstone gives a genuinely good performance as Jedburgh, a mysterious man who aids Craven in his investigation. But his character only seems to exist to pop up and provide ironic comments every now and then.

The same can be said about Shawn Roberts as Emma’s boyfriend, Burnham, who is given virtually nothing to do here. Danny Huston is especially bland and even wimpy as the film’s villain.

The movie truly belongs to Gibson, who is tailor made to play a rogue cop with nothing to lose. But then we’ve seen him play this same role a million times before in movies like “Mad Max” and “Lethal Weapon.” As good as Gibson is here, he’s not exactly stretching his acting muscles.

The gifted Martin Campbell, who breathed life back into the James Bond franchise with “Casino Royale,” directed the film. Campbell brings plenty of style to “Edge of Darkness” and producers a well-shot picture. However, the movie ultimately feels like a “Taken” wannabe. Personally, I’m starting to get sick of movies about fathers on manhunts to track down their daughter’s killers/kidnappers. I’d like to see more revenge movies about mommies with a vengeance instead.

I’m literally stuck in the middle on “Edge of Darkness.” At the end of the day, however, I can’t quite give the film a pass. Despite it’s superior qualities, the final product is slowly paced and never really takes off.

There are a couple of interesting twists and exciting moments in the final ten minutes. Even then, it’s too little, too late. As much as I wanted to love this movie, “Edge of Darkness” never left me on edge.

Reach the reporter at nspake@asu.edu