DIR: Martin Campbell • WRI: William Monahan, Andrew Bovell • PRO: Tim Headington, Graham King, Michael Wearing • DOP: Phil Meheux • ED: Stuart Baird • DES: Thomas E. Sanders • CAST: Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston
It’s interesting how a few short, simple scenes can become the legitimate driving force behind a taught, two-hour thriller, wrought with conspiracy, violence and intensity. And yet this is exactly the case in Edge of Darkness. This emotive, involving film, for all its intrigue and mystery, hinges upon a single, fundamental issue: Parenthood.
From the outset, Detective Tom Kraven (Mel Gibson) is characterised via his love for his daughter, Emma (Bojana Novakovic). A handful of brief scenes establish an instant connection with any viewer to ever have been, or have had, a parent. The vast majority, presumably.
The narrative and its pacing are a good fit. Plot-points, like buses, arrive suddenly after a long, tense wait. This is to the film’s benefit however, as in the interim, your investment in the case will hold your attention. The plot thickens in an organic manner, littered with graphic violence that contrasts nicely with the otherwise silent, brooding feature,
As a result, once the story really begins, the emotional upheaval strikes like a wrench to the face. The distinction between justice and vengeance should be as blurred for the audience as it becomes for Kraven. Therefore, the final act may split viewers down the middle. Yet, undeniably, they will be invested. Even disagreement is an involved response: Right?
Ultimately, Martin Campbell’s latest exploit comes down to how convincingly Gibson portrays the hollow, devastated father. Expectedly, this will prompt concerns that Edge of Darkness is little more than Payback 2 or Lethal Weapon 27. Audiences may even be tempted to accuse Gibson of being ‘too old for this shit.’
Mercifully this is not the case as Gibson gives a stirring performance that should have cynics smiling in two minutes and weeping inside of ten.
Edge of Darkness recruits a solid support cast, particularly via the philosophically foul-mouthed Jedburgh (Ray Winston) and refreshingly well realised villain Bennett (Danny Huston). Despite its convoluted political scheme, and its kinetically visceral action, Edge of Darkness feels very much like a real story with genuine characters.
Frequently dynamic camerawork helps to elevate this feature above its contemporaries in the genre. Some deft touches of visual flair are not lost on an audience watching this bleak tale. In fact, they brighten the place up. If just cosmetically.
The film tells the story of Tom Kraven and his descent from straight-laced cop, who wouldn’t punch a man wearing glasses, to vengeful parent who is forced to take the law into his own hands, along with his sidearm. The story is harsh, but universally accessible. The shots are gritty, but flood the senses. The story is over-familiar, but it arrests your attention.
Edge of Darkness could easily commander two hours of your life, assuming you have anything even remotely resembling a heart. The chances of which are relatively good.
(See biog here)
Edge of Darkness is released on 29 Jan 2010