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Edge of Darkness An Above-Average Thriller

Edge of Darkness
Directed by Martin Campbell
Written by William Monahan and Andrew Bovell based on the TV series by Troy Kennedy-Martin
Warner Bros., 2010

I didn’t realize that this was based on a TV series until just a minute ago…weird. The last movie I can remember based on an obscure TV series is The Fugitive, a show that, at the very least, ran 4 seasons back in the sixties. And of course there was Police Squad!, which ran six episodes and later became The Naked Gun. Edge of Darkness came to TV screens in 1985 and it lasted exactly the same amount of episodes.

And here’s Mel Gibson, who has not appeared in a big film since 2002’s Signs (he had a cameo in a movie he produced, Paparazzi, and a role in the Robert Downey, Jr. indie The Singing Detective, but even those were a while back). Since Signs, Gibson has been best-known for directing The Passion of the Christ and then blaming Jews for all wars and calling a female sergeant “sugar tits,” just before his new film Apocalypto came out. South Park, in its usual prescient fashion, painted Gibson as a Looney Tune back when The Passion of the Christ hit. It’s really unclear whether or not the public is ready to embrace one of the all-time box office draws again. He’s got a bit of that Tom Cruise stain on him now, where his name is no longer able to sell a picture…he has to earn it all over again.

This is the kind of role that defined Gibson before all the controversy. A bit unhinged, a guy who will do anything, even above the law, to find justice. The premise of this one is a little like last year’s Taken, which in of itself was a lot like Gibson’s 1996 vehicle Ransom, although we’re not talking about mere abduction here.

Gibson plays a Boston detective with the last name of Craven, and his daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic) is coming to visit. Emma shows signs of sickness early on, and before she can explain anything, she’s full on vomiting, and then gets blown away by some gunmen at Craven’s house. Emma worked for a company known as Northmoor, led by the wealthy and politically connected Jack Bennett (Danny Huston). Craven, after some good ol’ fashioned police work, tracking down leads, suspects that Northmoor is using illegal nuclear materials to build unauthorized weapons, and his daughter was exposed to radiation because of it. She also was looking to blow the whistle, and Northmoor knew it.

Being tied to the government gives Jack a bunch of evil henchmen at his disposal, hired to keep things quiet. Leading this program is the English heavy Jedburgh (Ray Winstone), who wants to keep Craven alive if he can, as long as he doesn’t find out too much and try to expose Northmoor for what it is. He also has a moral compass, but you never know exactly which way he’s leaning, whether he’s good or bad.

Needless to say, the further Craven gets into his investigation, the more danger he finds himself in, and this leads to our righteous Mel finding justice his way, you know, the kind you look for when all the legal avenues lead to corruption or death. There are some pretty good action scenes here, filmed by the old pro Martin Campbell, who helmed two of the better Bond flicks, Goldeneye and Casino Royale, not to mention The Mask of Zorro. There are also some pretty good lines in here, coming undoubtedly from The Departed’s Oscar-winning screenwriter William Monahan, but I guess we have to give his co-writer Andrew Bovell some credit here, too.

This is good ol’ Mel kicking ass like he used to. Now, does anyone care? I’d say it’s worth the ride.

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