With apologies to Jim Croce, you don't mess around with Mel. Especially when he plays a dour police detective who watches his daughter get blown away right in front of him outside his Boston home in the new film "Edge of Darkness."
With apologies to Jim Croce, you don't mess around with Mel.
Especially when he plays a dour police detective who watches his daughter get blown away right in front of him outside his Boston home in the new film "Edge of Darkness."
Yes, the movie is filmed in Massachusetts. Homers, rejoice. Look at the swan boats.
If Gibson were playing the mildly crazed Sgt. Martin Riggs of "Lethal Weapon" fame, the streets of Beantown would have been littered with bodies after the first 15 minutes. However, Gibson is more than 20 years older now, and his character in "Edge," though certainly tightly wound, prefers to investigate before popping off the perps.
That's just one of the problems with "Edge" if you're an action film fan. As the movie's two-hour mark approached, a fellow critic whispered in my ear, "When is Mel going to kill someone?"
Now if you like your movies more cerebral, "Edge" just might satisfy. The problem from this standpoint, however, is the film suffers from a serious case of obviousitis. You know who the bad guys are from the get-go, so surprises are few and thrills, for the most part, lacking.
In the deja vu department, Gibson has starred in vengeful-father films before, most notably the far superior "Ransom" (1996). Still, Mel is fun to watch when he's unhinged, and his Boston accent here isn't bad. At least he doesn't sound like a Kennedy or someone who confuses Back Bay with Bar Harbor.
"Edge" marks Gibson's first starring role since 2002's "Signs." Since then, he's directed "The Passion of the Christ" and "Apocalypto" and been arrested for speeding and drunken driving. He further damaged his image by hurling obscene, anti-Semitic remarks at the arresting officer and divorcing his wife of 28 years.
The curiosity factor surrounding this comeback might help the film's box office while the film's mediocrity just might offset it.
Not that "Edge" is a stuffing-filled gobbler. Director Martin Campbell ("Casino Royale") does manage to insert some suspense into the picture. And the cast, especially Ray Winstone as the mysterious operative Jedburgh, help elevate the film above B-movie status.
Based on a BBC series, also directed by Campbell, the movie opens with three bodies surfacing in the Connecticut River. Clearly, there's some malfeasance afoot. The film then segues to home movies of the exceedingly cute Emma Craven (Gabrielle Popa) as a young girl cavorting on the beach. Flash forward to the future and Emma, now all grown up (and played by Bojana Novakovic), has returned home to meet with her estranged father, Thomas (Gibson). But Emma apparently has some medical issues as she's throwing up and bleeding from the nose. Then her health takes a turn for the worse when her chest gets ripped apart by a shotgun blast.
Was the gunman aiming for Thomas and just a lousy shot? Or perhaps Emma was mixed up in some corporate shenanigans and needed to be silenced permanently? It doesn't take Thomas long before he answers these questions. He eventually confronts Jack Bennett (Danny Huston), the head of a nuclear energy company where Emma worked. The filmmakers should have just given Bennett a black hat and renamed him Snidely Whiplash. Political conspirators take note: Bennett is photographed with George Bush and the senator who just might be corrupt is a Republican. Tea partiers will at least be pleased to see Thomas place his trust in Fox News.
To try to build sympathy for Thomas, Campbell sprinkles the film with more flashbacks of Emma as a young girl. These sentimental scenes, however, only serve as a diversion from the serious subject matter at hand. The recently released "Creation" also contains multiple flashbacks of a dead girl. They don't serve that film well either.
The script by William Monahan ("The Departed") and Andrew Bovell has its moments at least. The repeated reference to Massachusetts as being a state where "everything is illegal" should please Bay Staters familiar with the commonwealth's Puritan roots.
Realists will eventually become annoyed when the film pulls a James Bond. That's when the bad guys, instead of simply killing the protagonist, only capture him so he can escape and put a serious hurt on them. That conceit is fine for escapist fare, not so much for thrillers that rely on a semblance of reality to be effective.
While Gibson acquits himself well here his Craven is no coward he should have picked a better comeback vehicle. He's driving a station wagon when he needs a Porsche.
"Edge of Darkness" stars Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone and Danny Huston. This film is rated R (for bloody violence and profanity), 117 minutes. Directed by Martin Campbell. Grade: C+