When this Mel Gibson starrer came to theaters, I didn’t get a chance to see it so my first exposure to it was on Blu-ray. I won’t go into a full review of the film here (I’ll leave that to our own Shannon Hood) but suffice it to say I liked director Martin Campbell’s mix of cop procedural, revenge tale and conspiracy thriller. Gibson plays Boston Detective Thomas Craven who’s daughter is brutally murdered right in front of his eyes after a rather brief homecoming.
This horrific act spurs Gibson’s character on a path of revenge and a quest for justice that takes him in many different directions as he crosses paths with all manner of characters. Of course, things are not as they seem and the crime is not s simple assassination gone wrong, nor was Craven the target as everyone, except him, suspect.
During the course of his investigation Craven discovers a wider conspiracy that leads to the power corridors of the highest levels of government. Into this mix comes Ray Winstone’s Jedburg, a shadow operative who ‘s motivations and loyalties are unclear.
Is he a friend or foe and who does he work for? These questions arise as the film progresses and as Craven and Jedburg have several scenes together. Even though the other actors in the film, including Danny Huston, Shawn Roberts and Bojana Novakovic, are quite good, Gibson and Winstone elevate their scenes together and make this movie, at times, a real pleasure to watch.
The film also benefits from a script co-written by The Departed’s William Monahan and sure, if occasionally heavy-handed, direction by Campbell, who’s reboot of the James Bond franchise with Casino Royale was one of my favorite films of the last few years.
If the film suffers its due to the complexity and task of adapting a larger mini-series, in this case the 1985 BBC version also directed by Campbell, into a feature film. There’s almost too much going on and in the rush to get it all in, some points are given very little development and the story, at times, feels rushed and forced.
Even with that, the performances of Winstone and Gibson, who hasn’t been this good in years, help the film definitely manage to entertain for the majority of its running time. Even if it suffers somewhat from too much in too small a time frame, it’s still better than a lot of films out there that don’t even bother trying to have a story and instead rely on action set pieces to move things along.
Turning to the technical aspects of the Blu-ray, I can say that this one is up to Warner Bros. usual standards. Picture and sound come across clear and crisp and the film looks as intended. That said, I will add that cinematographer Phil Meheux chose a more subtle approach to lighting Edge of Darkness so the film doesn’t pop as much as other titles might. Instead, the lighting adds to the dramatic effect of scenes, in particular those between Gibson and Winstone, and is not as noticeable as it might be on other more action-oriented films.
That’s not to say the film lacks anything visually, quite the contrary. It’s just not a title I would necessarily pull out to showcase the capabilities of the Blu-ray format. I’d probably use something like The Dark Knight, Star Trek or Avatar instead.
The Blu-ray sports an impressive list of features but in actuality, those features only add up to about forty minutes of content — which is not as much as on other recent titles. Still, the special features are interesting and include nine “Focus Point” featurettes: “Craven’s War of Attrition,” “Mel’s Back,” “Director Martin Campbell,” “Making a Ghost Character Real,” “Boston as a Character,” “Adapting the Edge of Darkness Miniseries,” “Revisiting the Edge of Darkness Miniseries,” “Edge of Your Seat,” and “Scoring the Film.”
These provide a fairly decent overview of the production. There’s also a small collection of redundant “Deleted Scenes” which, as usual, were better excised from the film. In addition, there’s the usual BD-Live bonuses and a DVD/Digital Copy combo disc.
Edge of Darkness is a well put together film and Blu-ray featuring some great performances. It has Mel Gibson at his best in years, the terrific Ray Winstone and a competent supporting cast. It also reminds us what an intelligent, professional director and writers can do with a film. The Blu-ray may not be as visually stunning as other titles, but the film itself is definitely worth a rental at the very least.