Mel Gibson returns to the big screen after a personal and professional hiatus of over seven years. His last starring role was in 2002’s We Were Soldiers. Many are hailing Edge Of Darkness as Gibson’s “comeback.” So is it? Meh. He is fine as a grief stricken Boston Detective, but he won’t be winning an award any time soon. There are a dozen actors that could have navigated this role equally well. That’s not knocking Gibson, but it’s a pretty generic role.
Edge of Darkness veers into spoiler territory early, and often, and I don’t like to spoil movies, so here is a spoiler-free synopsis. Gibson plays Craven, a single dad who goes to pick up his grown daughter from the train station. It is obvious he loves her very much. She seems slightly distant. Sensing something is wrong, he implores her to tell him what it is. Shortly after they get home, she becomes seriously ill. Craven takes her to the hospital, but as soon as they reach the front door, his daughter is violently gunned down in front of him.
The rest of the movie concerns Craven trying to uncover the mystery behind his daughter’s death. It involves government conspiracies, shady political types, evil corporations, and unconscionable greed. Because Craven has no family left, his vengeance is of the reckless variety, which too often translates into over the top.
Every time Gibson snarls a line like “I’ll see you…IN HELL” it caused my row to break into giggles. The corporate villain Jack Bennett (Danny Huston) must have been instructed to put in a campy performance. You expect him to be twirling a mustache while he surveys his wall of photographs with influential politicians. Front and center are photos of his character with George Bush, and a separate one with Nancy Pelosi. They are shown many times throughout the movie, to make sure that you get the fact that the company has some politicians in its back pocket.
Ray Winstone plays Jedburg, the most intriguing character, a “cleaner” of sorts, who throws Craven a few bread crumbs to follow. Seems there were some sinister happenings at the Nuclear research facility that Craven’s daughter works. The deeper he gets into the mystery, the more the body count rises.
Martin Campbell directed this film, as well as the 1985 BBC miniseries that the film was based on. He does a fairly decent job of setting up the story for the first ninety minutes, but the last thirty minutes are brutally bad, and seemed like they belonged in another film entirely.
I also had some problems with understanding dialogue. I couldn’t understand anything that was being said during a pivotal conversation that takes place between Jedburgh and Craven. I had to strain to hear it, and on top of that there were accents to decipher. I wish some of the dialogue driven scenes would have been louder.
The plot unravels into absurdity, and Huston’s acting is almost as bad as the silk pajama set that he wears in the final scenes. There is lots of lurching, staggering, and melodrama. This is the type of movie that doesn’t let anyone die quickly.
If you are shot, you don’t fall down, you make your way over to a chair, which you then proceed to dramatically flip over the top of before dying. Everything in the last twenty minutes is like that. There is one scene that I put up against any from Showgirls or Deep Blue Sea for it’s pure awfulness.
So was the movie entertaining? Yes, I was laughing my butt off for the last 30 minutes. I’m just not sure that is the response the filmmakers were hoping for. File this one under “guilty pleasure.”