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Philly2Philly.com reviews Edge of Darkness

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After almost a decade which has certainly seen him have his share of ups and downs, Mel Gibson  returns to the silver screen in Edge of Darkness (Directed by Martin Campbell, Warner Bros.), his first starring role in since 2002's Signs.  Mel Gibson in "Edge of Darkness." Photo: http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/the-ticket/Edge%20of%20Darkness468.jpg

Gibson plays Tom Craven, a Boston cop whose daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic) is gunned down outside of his home. It's first assumed that the assailant was after Craven. However, when he digs deeper into her daughter's life via her boyfriend and personal contacts, Craven finds out that she worked for Northmoor- a Nuclear Facility manufacturing nuclear weapons for foreign countries. As Craven puts the pieces together by means of casual conversations and physical violence, he discovers that Emma was aware of the actions of Northmoor as were several activists whose bodies were found in the lake surrounding the facility, and that she was dying of radiation poisoning at the time of her murder, which comes from the hands of Northmoore and its stuffy but snarly CEO Jack Bennett (Danny Huston). Through the aide of these contacts and the mysterious Jedburgh (Ray Winstone), Craven sets to expose this goverment cover up by any means necessary to make sure his daughter's death was not in vein, even if it means killing himself in order to do so.

The previews of Edge of Darkness  suggests that is an action packed, shoot 'em up, perhaps darker version of Lethal Weapon, Payback, or even Ransom. Although the film is anything but tame and certainly has its share of violent scenes (including the thrilling, and albeit gory climax). Despite his recent off-screen behavior that has many people scratching their heads over the last several years, it is good to see Gibson back on the big screen, even if it means that "Darkness" sometimes comes up a little empty in some spots. I found myself going over the movie in my head after I left the theater in order to place some details together that the film didn't do to its best degree.

While Gibson is his usual solid self in the role of Craven, it seems that almost all of the movie is entirely focused on Craven's mission as opposed to possibly developing the supporting characters like Huston's Bennett (although we do momentarily get a glimpse into the life of Winstone's character Jedburgh).

Looking older and a little grayer, you get vintage Gibson in what he does best- the role of an angry,suicidal, gun wielding avenger. However, the movies previously mentioned contain humorous overtones and (for the most part) happy endings. Gibson's Craven never had a wife involved in promiscuous activity like Martin Riggs did in Lethal Weapon, money stolen from him in a heist like his characer of Porter in Payback, or a kidnapped son who was safely rescued in Ransom. The love of Craven's life (for which he regretfully hasn't always expressed to her in the adult stages of her life) is gone forever- the victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Moreover, Craven has nobody to lean on like Roger Murtaugh or Rosie (Danny Glover  in "Weapon" and the lovely Maria Bello  in Payback, respectively). Edge of Darkness is not what you would call the feelgood movie of the year. The only comedic overtones you will find are when Gibson delivers several of his now famous one liners right before he is about to smash somebody's head open. Vintage Gibson indeed, but it tends to come at a price. 

At the end of the day, Edge of Darkness  is a solid thriller with some very human flaws.

Grade: B

 

Contact Joe Vallee at: jvallee@philly2philly.com

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