Edge of Darkness

Starring: Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone

Directed by: Martin Campbell
Rated: R
Movie Released: 2010

Final Grade:

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Mel Gibson, de-crazy-fy and make a good old action- thriller film again.  Mel was all the rage in the 90’s, cranking out things like Lethal Weapon films, Payback, Ransom, Braveheart and Conspiracy Theory.  So as January 2010 rolled around, studios found room in the doldrums of Hollywood’s “slow season” of theatrical releases for the film Edge of Darkness.  At first glance, the film looks mildly entertaining, filling people’s minds of hopes of a return to Mel’s roots, leaving behind the days of drunken Jew hating and “sugar-tits.”

Edge of Darkness is the story of a Boston police detective who’s daughter is killed in what looks like an attempt on his life.  With the blood stains of his daughter still on his hands, Gibson begins tracking down leads to find the truth behind her murder.  (Never mind the unrealistic angle of a cop investigating the death of his own family)  What he uncovers is a shocking government conspiracy and a race to find out the answers before a cleaner makes the trail run cold.

As the film plays out, this film has all the makings of a movie that would have a Glenn Beck listening, card carrying, tea-party going, gun toting, right wing extremist shouting, “I told you so!” at the top of their lungs.   After a slow start, the film meanders down the road of big government cover ups and conspiracy theories and leaves the action packed plot line in the dust.  I suppose the point is trying to uncover the mystery, but the problem is too many of us have grown tiresome of the “rich big brother” is really “the man behind the curtain” plot line.  The plot line reeks of a reject season of 24 with Gibson playing the “extremely nice” version of Jack Bauer.  Many times I felt the movie was similar to something like State of Play (2009).   Little did I know until after I watched the film, was that much like State of Play, Edge of Darkness was based off a BBC mini-series of the same name.

I suppose it is nice seeing Gibson back in the role of a tough guy gumshoe  but unfortunately that is really all the film brings to the table.  There are a few scenes here and there that make you chuckle at the sheer ingenuity of  Gibson’s character as he shakes tailing cars or uncovers a clue, but even those a minimal at best.  Along side Gibson’s performance, you have a great performance by Ray Winstone as the clever cleaner assigned to erase the evidence trail that Gibson is uncovering.  Winstone’s performance is both intriguing and entertaining, but his true purpose is to play a cleaner with a morality complex and a case that challenges him to reflect on which side he wants to be on.  While I enjoyed the complex nature of his character, I felt the film did a terrible job of making it work.  Instead, his character comes off as idiom speaking buffoon that leaves the viewer scratching their heads.

Perhaps about 20 years ago a film like Edge of Darkness would have been the perfect niche film.  After all, much like State of Play from last year, Edge of Darkness really feels like a film that would have been better suited for the 90’s.  Because of this, the film suffers and brings nothing out of the ordinary to its viewers.  From start to finish this film sucks you in and then makes you feel intelligent for figuring out the ending before it does.  While you are yawning, this film tries to pull its “A-ha! Bet you didn’t see that coming!” moment.  When it’s all said and done, I now know why they called this film Edge of Darkness.  The answer you see is really quite simple; all this film really achieves is keeping you teetering on that fine line of staying awake for the conclusion, and closing your eyes for a much more rewarding shut eye time.

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