EDGE OF DARKNESS
Review by Gordon Justesen
Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Bojana Novakovic
Director: Martin Campbell
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 117 Minutes
Release Date: May 11, 2010
“There’s a lot going on out there in this world. And you just never can connect A to B.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because I’m usually the guy that stops you connecting A to B.”
The revenge thriller is, for me, one of those subgenres that never get tiresome as long as it does what it sets out to do with a major vengeance (forgive the expression). Edge of Darkness is a perfect example of such a flick. Like last year’s Taken, it presents a thriller scenario and gets the job done effectively, in spite of offering few surprises.
It also marks Mel Gibson’s first screen performance since 2002’s Signs (which I still regard as his greatest piece of acting to date). He concentrated more on his career as a filmmaker, resulting in two distinctively strong pieces of cinema in The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto. And what better way for Mel to return in front of the camera than a role he slips so perfectly into.
Gibson plays Thomas Craven, a veteran Boston detective anxiously awaiting the arrival of his only daughter, Emma (Bojana Novakovic), at the train station in the film’s opening. They have a good deal of catching up to do as they’ve been estranged for quite some time. But Emma, who tells her father that she’s been working a new intern position, soon reveals to be in a sickened conditioned which may be tied to her real reason for returning home.
Just as they’re about to leave for the hospital, Emma is gunned down (quite graphically, I might add) by two masked hoodlums right outside the front door. The incident leaves Craven emotionally shattered and completely guilt stricken, since he spent so much time away from her while being all too committed to his job. Although advised by his police cohorts to not attach himself to the murder investigation, Craven proceeds anyway.
What’s not clear at first is who the intended target of the shooting was. It’s easy to assume that the shotgun blast was meant for Craven, as being a veteran cop in Boston is likely to make one unpopular with all sorts of thugs. And though he had lost touch with Emma, he knows she wouldn’t have gotten mixed up with people wanting her dead.
But as his investigation digs deeper, it is revealed that the daughter’s intern position was at a private firm called Northmoor, which specializes in weapons and such. After Craven comes into contact with associates of her daughter’s, including a boyfriend who knows that the company is keeping watch of him, it becomes clear that Emma was about to spill the beans on something and that Northmoor is up to no good. That’s also made clear after Craven comes face to face with the CEO of the company, Bennett (Danny Huston, once again turning in a superb sinister performance).
Another key character in the story is a mysterious figure known as Jedburgh (Ray Winstone), and one of the most fascinating aspects of the movie is trying to pinpoint where his loyalties lie specifically. When he’s introduced, it appears he’s been hired out by people tied to Northmoor to put an end to Craven’s investigation. And when he and Craven meet face to face, and he begins to sympathize with the father’s loss, we realize that Jedburgh carries his own set of rules…and yet, we still don’t know which side he’s on.
Much of the movie’s power comes by way of director Martin Campbell, who recently gave us one of the best James Bond films ever with Casino Royale. And this is material that Campbell is very familiar with, as the film is based on a 1985 BBC miniseries he directed. Campbell certainly knows how to construct a truly tight thriller, and with the screenplay being penned by William Monahan (The Departed, Kingdom of Heaven), it’s easy to see why the finished product is a perfect example of an expertly crafted, traditional thriller.
As someone who did lose more than a little respect for Mel Gibson’s off screen behavior, I was really hoping I would be able to put that aside all that and simply enjoy the same kick ass persona he delivered in such great films like The Road Warrior, Lethal Weapon and Payback. Thankfully, Mel delivered exactly that, as he injects a fantastic mix of menace and sympathy into the role. After seeing the ads for the movie, I was a tad bit worried about having to hear Mel speak in what sounded like the most overdone Boston accent created by any actor, and yet while watching the movie it was never really a problem.
While it doesn’t break any new ground as far as the revenge thriller is concerned, Edge of Darkness is nevertheless a heart-pounding, brutal and thoroughly gripping addition to this subgenre. It really delivers in all the necessary areas, including one of the best climatic showdowns to be seen in any movie of this type. Gibson is in fine form, Winstone is nothing but awesome, Huston is a top-notch despicable villain, and director Martin Campbell once again proves himself to be superb in the crafting of action and tension.
Warner does yet another tremendous job with this Blu-ray release. The Boston setting is captured terrifically, and the film boasts an equal amount of both daytime and nighttime sequences that play off in top notch HD glory. Colors are fantastic, as well. Another grand illustration of why WB is one of the best Blu-ray studios around.
We get one intense DTS HD mix to accompany one intense movie. While not necessarily action packed, the movie does offer nice bonuses for the sound mix to work with. The most fantastic example is the score by Howard Shore, who continues to be my favorite film composer when it comes to suspense thrillers (his scores for Se7en, Panic Room and The Silence of the Lambs speak for themselves). And when the film’s brutal violence takes center stage, believe me when I say that you will feel the effect of every such sequence, particularly in the climatic confrontation. Dialogue delivery is thoroughly superb as well.
Included on the Blu-ray is 30 minutes worth of behind the scenes featurettes entitled “Focus Points”, which covers a wide range of topics including the re-envisioning of the British mini-series to Mel’s return to acting. Also featured are Additional/Alternate Scenes.
There’s also a Bonus Disc containing both the DVD version and a Digital Copy version for you to download to your PC/portable device.
I wasn’t really expecting to be blown away by Edge of Darkness, and as a result I was quite surprised by how effective it turned out to be. Mel Gibson proves that he can still kick major ass, and director Martin Campbell handles this material perfectly. Definitely a must see for fans of this subgenre.