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Movie Review: Edge of Darkness Blunted by Loose Ends

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New Zealander Martin Campbell, who directed Casino Royale and a long list of other films, directs Mel Gibson in the action-packed Edge of Darkness, based on a 1985 BBC series by the same name.

Set in modern-day Boston, Mel Gibson is detective Thomas Craven whose activist daughter eviscerated by a sniper's bullet before his eyes. He believes that he's the real target of the hit and demands to be put in charge of the investigation of her death despite this going against protocol. Automatically, the incident is under investigation by the department because it involves an officer. Craven presents the argument you know he will win. So with a green light, Mel Gibson, in top form, hits the accelerator as the director puts his detective character through paces and chases on the byways and highways of Boston.

Gibson maintains a weak Bostonian accent to reflect his working class roots and blue-collar career as a suspicious cop. Their house in Boston is the scene of the first crime, when his daughter comes home for a visit and while on the porch, winds up murdered. Emma Craven (Bojana Novakovic), a nuclear physicist, works at a high profile nuclear facility called Northmoor that overlooks Boston. She becomes her dad's conscience and creates welcome memories as he continually "sees" her once again as his little girl. But his real job is to track down her adult associates and piece together the puzzle of her professional life in nuclear research.

Detective Craven and a mysterious Englishman, Jedburgh (Ray Winstone) meet, greet, and kill some unlikely players in a cat-and-mouse game where everything is classified. The loose ends that consume Emma's life are slowly revealed and we get a glimpse of what she knew. When the mystery is revealed, her dad is left shaken and even more determined to find her killers.

Campbell directs a modern-day Wild West meets Placid East Coast tale with enough murder, suicide, car chases, and sudden death to earn a strong R rating and to satisfy its mostly male audience. This is a real crowd pleaser that may not make the best romantic date outing. Campbell is a veteran director who either gets lost in the complexity of this tale or simply does not care. His audacity is evident in that he takes his audience along for the ride anyway. It's a somewhat implausible Mel Gibson who plays James Bond for a day, if you will, no doubt making Gibson the real draw for this movie. The cast is unremarkable except for the mysterious Brit Jedburgh, played by British actor Ray Winstone. He alone lends an air of authenticity to the film. The rest of the cast is busied with the job to either kill or be killed.

Critically, one gets the sense that there is a lot of story that goes untold in the two hours this film runs, i.e., loose ends that we are never privy to. That sense of loss is validated when we know that it is based on an entire BBC series! While Edge of Darkness keeps you on the edge of your seat, the story keeps you searching your mind for an answer: what's this film really about? We are never quite sure.

If bullets were stars I would have to give this film three out of five bullets for fast-paced action and intrigue potential.

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