ARIZONA REPORTER




Movie Reviews - 27/01

EDGE OF DARKNESS (Warner Bros)


By Harvey Karten - Filmed in the (until recently) heavily Democratic state of Massachusetts, "Edge of Darkness" gains its inspiration from a beloved, BAFTA-award-receiving British mini-series written by Troy Kennedy Martin. The mini-series-given the fears of nuclear catastrophe that hovered over the Isles in the mid-eighties-had a heavy impact at the time of its release in Britain during the Thatcher era. Now available in DVD, that drama began as a conventional whodunit but spun off into a political and social commentary about the British government, which those on the left believed to be driving the world to catastrophe. The role of Bob Peck, an anguished police detective, is now, in the movie version, in the hands of Mel Gibson, fresh from a five-year break in film appearances. Gibson, as Detective Thomas Craven, projects of the same depression and anxiety that informed his psyche in the Lethal Weapon series. This time, he means to break out of his funk by direct action well beyond the call of municipal police duty, action which finds him gunning down several of the villains responsible for the death of his daughter-including one creep who, in what must be an original in police dramas-is executed largely by drinking milk.



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EDGE OF DARKNESS (Warner Bros)

Reviewed for Arizona Reporter by Harvey Karten
Grade: B
Directed by: Martin Campbell
Written By: William Monahan, Andrew Bovell
Cast: Mel Gibson, Danny Huston, Ray Winstone, Bojana Novakovic, Shawn Roberts,
Screened at: Warner, NYC, 1/19/20
Opens: January 29 2010



Like the '85 miniseries, Martin Campbell's movie is convoluted almost beyond repair, the plot taking all the twists and turns one that Campbell and his two writers, William Monahan and Andrew Bovell, can imagine. If you've seen any of the posters that have invaded New York's subways, you see a detective glaring into space as though possessed by a demon. As the story moves onward, more rapidly than the action of the TV series, we see how a city cop who is probably non-political and wants only to avenge the brutal shotgun murder of his daughter at his own doorway, becomes enmeshed in a thicket of international intrigue.

You wouldn't expect the sweet, outgoing, daddy-loving 24-year-old Emma Craven (Bojana Novakovic) to be an environmental whistleblower. Where in the TV series Craven's daughter alerts Scotland Yard and the British government to intrigue within a corporation that stores plutonium under a mandate for the government, here she has alerted the U.S. Senator from Massachusetts and presumably her boyfriend, that all is not red, white, and blue in the Bay State. Anyone and everyone who is suspected of hearing the sound of her whistle is under surveillance, with quite a few killings and betrayals in attempts to squash the release of classified information.

Gibson, who takes on what may be considered by his director to be a New England accent but in reality sounds thuggish, performs in the role of Det. Thomas Craven, who witnesses the execution of his daughter by shooters assumed by to be gunning for him. The poor guy is a single dad who has seen his family wiped out in an instant. Determined to track down the conspirators, he crosses paths with his representative in the U.S. Senate, his daughter's boyfriend, other members of the force including Whitehouse (Jay O. Sanders), who will ultimately betray him, a British agent , Darius Jedburgh (Ray Winsteon), and most important of all, Bennett (Danny Huston), the CEO of a corporation with a government contract to produce weapons for the country's defense. Young Emma, an intern in the company, discovers that Bennett and his employees have been putting plans in place to subvert the production of the weaponry. She blows the whistle, thereby bringing about a chain of events that will leads to multiple killings.

Mel Gibson is in virtually every scene, a man bent on avenging the murder of his only close family member. He will no longer play by the staid rules of police procedure but will destroy everyone he suspects is involved in the plot. The biggest problem of the picture is its byzantine plot, characters appearing as though out of the woodwork, not all of whom make their loyalties clear. Most frustrating, the particular evils being committed by the corporation are likewise puzzling, the explanation for the company's depravity related just once and all too briefly. The pace is busier than that of the TV episodes with moments of loud shots from time to time piercing the air unexpectedly. Our own country may now be more wrapped up in the politics of recession, unemployment, and the fight over the health bill to be riveted by the nuclear drama as the Brits were in 1985, but labyrinthine plot aside, "Edge of Darkness" is a mature, sophisticated work.

EDGE OF DARKNESS (Warner Bros)
Rated R. 106 minutes. © 2010 by Harvey Karten Member: NY Film Critics Online

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