Nobody conveys the emotion of anger on the big screen any better than Mel Gibson. When the character he’s playing becomes upset, he manages to instill an incredible maniacal gleam in his eyes. If you don’t know what I mean, check him out as Max in the “Mad Max” films, or as “Tom Mullen” in “Ransom,” or as Martin Riggs in the “Lethal Weapon” movies.
Now Gibson hasn’t starred in a film in seven years, but he’s returned with a vengeance in “Edge of Darkness,” and trust me when I say that gleam is definitely back in his eyes. In addition to being a riveting action thriller with plenty of suspense, this is also a revenge film, and I love films that deal with this subject because too often the judicial system doesn’t adequately deal with scumbags.
“Edge of Darkness,” which is based upon the 1985, six-part British miniseries, is set in Boston, where Thomas Craven (Gibson) is a veteran homicide detective. As the film opens, we find Craven waiting at the airport to pick up his daughter, Emma (Bojana Novakovic), who has returned home for a visit. She is a graduate of MIT, and she is an intern with a government agency.
It doesn’t take Craven long to learn that his daughter is not well. She becomes violently ill on the way home, and when they arrive at Craven’s house, she confesses that there is something wrong with her. Before she can continue, another siege of nausea hits her, and when she begins to vomit blood, Craven realizes that she needs to get to the hospital in a hurry. But they never make it. When they open the front door on their way to the car, someone shouts “Craven” and opens fire, killing Emma.
At first, everyone involved in the ensuing investigation assumes that Craven was the target, but as the story continues to unfold, we learn that Emma was indeed the intended victim. What kind of trouble had Emma attempted to flee by returning home? And what was the nature of her mysterious illness? And most importantly, who killed her?
All of these questions and more are answered during this fascinating crime thriller about a distraught father who pulls out all the stops to bring his daughter’s killer to justice. This is a film that will grab you almost from the very first scene and not let go of you until its unpredictable denouement.
Under the stellar direction of Martin Campbell (“Casino Royale”), who also directed the British miniseries that spawned the film, “Edge of Darkness” is packed with action, adventure, suspense, mystery, and several completely unexpected twists that will keep you guessing. It’s also an emotionally charged film because it deals with a heartbroken father trying to get to the bottom of his only child’s murder while he’s also attempting to cope with the shock of her untimely death.
Gibson, who looks noticeably older than he did the last time we saw him on the big screen, portrays Craven perfectly even down to a flawless Boston accent. Throughout the film we consistently feel compassion for Craven and what he is going through because Gibson is so skillful at conveying his character’s emotions by his facial expressions and his body language. Some of the close-ups of Craven’s face will break you heart, and it is really good to see Gibson back in a starring role. In the film’s production notes, the two-time Academy Award-winning actor explained what drew him to the part.
“It was an intriguing story. That’s the main thing—if I think it’ll be compelling and entertaining to an audience, I’m on board. I was intrigued by the characters, and how they reacted to what was happening to them. At the same time, it’s a very compelling mystery involving issues we’re all uncertain about, and uncertainty is scary to most people.”
One of the things Campbell insisted upon during the making of the film was the idea of making it as realistic as possible, and he commented on this in the production notes.
“Realism in the film was absolutely important. When Emma died, we had real forensic people, real cops, all of that. The action in this film is really grounded in a relations history, so making it all appear very real was essential. So stylistically, we shot it very simply, in a very uncomplicated manner; there are no pretentious or slick shots.”
With some of absolute junk Hollywood has been churning out lately, it was really refreshing to watch a quality police thriller. “Edge of Darkness” (Score it an 8.) should keep you on the edge of your seat.