Edge of Darkness (2010) dir. Martin Campbell
Starring: Mel Gibson, Danny Huston, Ray Winstone, Jay O Sanders
By Alan Bacchus
I haven’t seen the original BBC Mini Series Edge of Darkness from 1985 so I can only judge the film on its own merits, but even still, without anything to compare it to, it comes off as a completely forgettable thriller without the ‘edge’ required for it to compete with its chief genre competitor, ‘Taken’.
On the surface, the film seemed to be marketed as another vigilante film much like ‘Taken’ or the upcoming ‘Harry Brown’. On paper, this is how it would seem, as the logline would read something like, ‘veteran working class Boston cop sets about to find the murderer of his estranged daughter and exact his own personal revenge’. Certainly casting Mel Gibson, who is his own kind of mentally deranged cinema vigilante and celeb of ill repute, is a good starting place. Unfortunately the film refuses to fully embrace its vigilante genre roots, instead dragging us through a rather dull, straight-ahead procedural which leads to an inevitable conclusion, and without the complexities, surprises, twists or most importantly the visceral and emotional complexities which makes vigilantism such a compelling cinematic topic.
It should have been showcase piece for Gibson who hadn't played the lead in a film since 2002's Signs, but the time away from the craft of acting is evident in his performance, with Mel looking rather shaky in front of the camera and for lack of a better word, ‘old’. The stuntman who doubles for him in most of the action scenes, including rudimentary jumping, running and hand-to-hand combat looks obvious. On occasion Gibson turns on his quirky psychotic tendencies from his Martin Riggs roles, but for most of the picture he skulks around with barely an expression on his face,a dopey visage devoid of any emotional depth.
Competing against Gibson’s performance is a silly political activist plotting involving the devious business practises of a shady arms manufacturer. Danny Huston who plays the uptight upper class company man, is a stock character, recycling the same performances from ‘The Constant Gardner’, ‘The Kingdom’, ‘Birth’ among others. Jay O Sanders' presence and purpose in the story is telemarked from the very beginning. He plays the cop buddy to Gibson’s character, and by his complete inactivity in the story we know he will emerge as the betraying Judas of this story.
Campbell shoehorns in a couple of shockingly brutal violent moments, although are exhilarating, don’t actually fit in with the overall tone of contemplative investigation and weak stream pacing.
Under the watch of another director with some real ‘edge’ Edge of Darkness might have been a snowball turned avalanche of power and emotionm, instead its as dull as a rusty butter knife.
‘Edge of Darkness’ is available on Blu-Ray and DVD from Warner Bros. Home Video.