As the release date approached for Edge of Darkness, I became increasingly curious as to how Mel Gibson would be received. Would he be welcomed back as a star? Would he be rejected due to the controversy that has swirled around him in recent years? Would people be indifferent and let the movie speak for itself?
The most logical response would be to let the movie speak for itself. Well, that should probably be the case for any movie. Mel Gibson is an interesting case, as he has not starred in a film since 2002's Signs and he is a part of the aging guard, alongside the likes of Bruce Willis and Sly Stallone. Sure, he is bit more multi-faceted, but the basic truth remains. So, how do you feel about the subject? Do you think Edge of Darkness shows Mel on top? Me? I say yes, surprisingly so.
Edge of Darkness is a new take on a BBC mini-series from 1985, which was also directed by Martin Campbell. The story centers on a man whose daughter is murdered in front of him, sparking an investigation that leads him into a web of dangerous corporations and cover-ups. It is a revenge story that contains a strong emotional quotient and plays out like a cross between Death Wish and The Constant Gardener. An odd pairing, to be certain, but the similarities are there. The end result is a film with moderately lofty ideas blended with a more intimate, populist appeal.
I went into the film with reservations induced by the trailer. Simply put, the trailer is awful. It shows some of the exciting moments, but it also tells the entire story. If you are interested in the film and have not seen the trailer, don't. If you have seen the trailer, do not let it dissuade you from giving the film a chance. While it gives things away, it does not really represent the film's quality.
The film opens ominously when a moonlit river's calm surface is disturbed by three bodies floating to the surface. The scene quickly shifts to Thomas Craven (Gibson) waiting at the train station for the arrival of his daughter, Emma (Bojana Novakovic). She arrives on time, and the two head back to his home. The reunion is short-lived as she falls ill. As they go to leave for the hospital, Emma is viciously gunned down on the doorstep by a bullet thought to be meant for him.
A police investigation ensues. They look into his old cases for potential enemies and scour the neighborhood for forensic evidence. Thomas, meanwhile, mounts his own investigation into Emma's death and uncovers much more than he bargained for. He is led to Northmoor, the secretive corporation that Emma was working for which apparently deals in illegal and traitorous projects in addition to a slate of American defense contracts. Since it's a corporation, it is inherently evil, compounded by the fact that it's run by the creepy yet courteous Jack Bennett (Danny Huston) from high in his tower office overlooking his property.