Sunday, 31 January 2010


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In the space of a week we have another film driven by one man's quest to seek justice for the murder of a loved one. But the two films couldn't have been more differently executed (pardon the pun). While the first (Law Abiding Citizen) is nasty revenge porn, the latest (Edge of Darkness) is a political conspiracy thriller; a remake of a classic 1980s British mini-series, though no less violent for that.

Thomas Craven (Mel Gibson) is a Boston police detective whose daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic) is gunned down in front of him. At first believing himself to be the target, Craven soon uncovers links between his daughter's death and Northmoor, the private research facility where she worked as a research assistant.

We're soon left in no doubt that Northmoor was indeed involved, especially given that the head of the company, Jack Bennett, all smirks and thousand dollar suits, is played by Danny Huston. Director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) is quoted as saying he chose Huston as he doesn't appear as an obvious villain, yet I can't recall a single Danny Huston film where he wasn't the bad guy. Bennett's influence seems to be all pervasive; he has a man in every office and department of authority and power in the state of Massachusetts, so when Craven starts digging, people start dieing and the detective is soon on borrowed time.

Helping, or hindering Craven's progress is Jedburgh (Ray Winstone). Best described as a “cleaner”, Jedburgh works on behalf of the bad guys' interests, determining how much everybody knows and what actions should be taken. Winstone brings some much needed humour to the proceedings; his scenes with Gibson are playful whilst mindful of the darker truth of their situation.

I was surprised to learn that this is Mel Gibson's first on-screen role since 2002's Signs. Most of the interim has been spent behind the camera directing: The Passion of the Christ (2004) and Apocalypto (2007). There have also been some off-screen developments but they have no bearing on this film so I'll leave the muckraking to the commercial news networks, I mean tabloids (it's so hard for me to distinguish between the two). Gibson does stoic well and given he is now in his 50s, it should be no surprise that he's chosen a slow burn thriller rather than an actioner in which to make his comeback, though there is gunfire and a bit of biffo to sate the faithful.

Having said that, Campbell, who also directed the original television version, could have done with amping up the adrenaline and the tension, for while I was engaged by Edge of Darkness I was never intrigued and nowhere near the edge of my seat. As for the screenplay, it was penned by William Monahan (with assistance by Australian screenwriter Andrew Bovell). Monahan also wrote Scorcese's The Departed (2006), which perhaps explains why almost everyone cops it in the head before the final credits roll.

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