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Thomas Craven is a detective who has spent years working the streets of Boston. When his own daughter is killed outside his own home, Craven soon realizes that her death is only one piece of an intriguing puzzle filled with corruption and conspiracy, and it falls to him to discover who is behind the crime. Written by
He is in every sense of the word back. It has been over seven years since Mel Gibson graced the multiplexes with his presence. In that time he has directed two films (one wildly successful, the other wildly good) and for some he has ruined his ability to be seen merely as an actor by making some despicable decisions in his personal life. I will simply say that while the man is no friend of mine I am fond of his work. In this movie which would have been a good one with or without him he effortlessly slips into the persona that dominates every picture in his career. Enough about the man, let me elaborate on the character and the world he inhabits.
Edge of Darkness was a UK TV series some 20 odd years ago. The director of that series is the man behind the camera here, Martin Campbell (director of one of the previous decade's best Casino Royale). Along the way you will have to excuse some implausibility's. Notice I say implausibility's and impossibilities. The difference is often what makes a thriller thrilling or simply dumb.
Boston Detective Thomas Craven (Gibson) is picking up his daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic) for a visit home. She doesn't come home often and there is a spring in the step of this aging cop. We can see though that something is up with her. Her nose bleeds often and there is something clearly on her mind. Before she can spill it to her dad she is murdered brutally on his front porch. Tom immediately becomes a man on a mission. Don't mistake him for someone without feelings. He is racked by flashbacks and memories of his child. This motivates him but saddens him far more. Along the way he discovers that he may not have been the target of the assailants but that his daughter might have some skeletons in her closet. His investigation of course takes him away from his normal jurisdiction as an officer of the law. He's a man on targeting revenge not righteousness. Eventually his search leads him to his daughter's former employer which is engaged in defense contracting (the shady type of course) with the U.S. government. The company's name is Northmoor and its head is Jack Bennett (Danny Huston) a man so passive and intelligent you wouldn't even think to call him a monster. Aiding or perhaps prohibiting Tom is the savvy and mysterious Jedberg (Ray "how haven't I been nominated for an Oscar yet" Winstone).
The plot of this film requires a little more detail than I have supplied but the less you know about Northmoor or Ms. Craven's dealings the more you will enjoy this. Suffice it to say that while this plot is a bit wild it is in fact in line with the characters and the world it portrays. There is always a grain of realism when films accuse of the government of quietly allying itself with effective but perhaps immoral defense contractors (Google: "Blackwater"). All this is way above the head of our hero but his intelligence guides him through his personal investigation. He's a thinker far more than an action hero. Along the way, he does get himself out a few physically improbable situations but that's okay. It's nothing over the top and Gibson's so fiercely personifies this conflicted man that we root for him instead of roll our eyes when he blasts a car off the road. The cast is aces. Winstone is perfect as a man with a mysteriously intelligent man with the skill set and persona to control the situations at hand while still seeming human. Danny Huston is becoming a true presence as a villain-character actor. We loathe him by the end of film not simply because of his calculating ruthlessness but because he is always great foil for our film's protagonists. The rest of the cast fills in nicely embodying their roles without standing out due to overacting or incompetence. Another aspect of the film is that it's Boston dialogue heavy. An accent or two is so thick that it's hard to understand.
At the end of the proceedings, Edge of Darkness is a very good and satisfying thriller. It's easy to buy into its twists and turns and even be riveted by a few. It's not as dead on intelligent or seem as stunningly real and huge as last year's State of Play but this is a Gibson star vehicle and I am more than happy for it. He has always been an actor who seemed to be playing a real character in every single thing he's done. He's got range to. Whether it's the comedy of the Lethal Weapon series, the intensity of Braveheart, or the reserved emotion of Signs we are drawn to his character. Baggage and all, Mel the actor is back right where he left off.
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