Monday 5 September 2011

Movie Review: Edge Of Darkness (2010)

A gloomy revenge tale, Edge Of Darkness starts at the edge but marches to the heart of darkness in a tale of one man taking on powerful evil forces. An otherwise standard story benefits from a pervading and welcome sense of despair.

Thomas Craven (Mel Gibson) is a veteran Boston detective. His daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic) comes for a visit, and she appears to be sick with a mystery poisoning ailment. Before Thomas can rush her to the hospital, Emma is killed at close range by a masked shotgun-wielding assassin at his doorstep.

The original assumption is that Thomas was the intended target and the motive must be related to one of his police cases. But his dogged investigation reveals that his daughter was a whistle-blower at her place of work, the government-financed Northmoor corporation. Emma uncovered an illegal weapons manufacturing program at Northmoor, confided in her boyfriend David (Shawn Roberts) and contacted an activist group to help her shine the spotlight on Northmoor's activities. The activists have all been murdered on the orders of CEO Jack Bennett (Danny Huston), with the knowledge of Senator Jim Pine (Damian Young), whom Emma had turned to for help before being killed.

Thomas starts feeling the effects of radiation poisoning, and he needs to move quickly to expose the Northmoor conspiracy while navigating around the unwanted attentions of Jedburgh (Ray Winstone), a brutish British "consultant" brought in by Northmoor and the political aides to clean up all loose ends.

Mel Gibson, trying to stitch back together a career in tatters due to personal demons, injects Edge Of Darkness with in-built doom. Gone is the boyish charisma and twinkle in the eye. Instead, Gibson's Thomas Craven is dour and craggy, eyes filled with the mist produced by the combination of quiet sadness and burning rage.

The supporting cast is lacking intensity and individuality, playing stock roles in low definition. Danny Huston as Jack Bennett is the standard evil corporate CEO, oozing corruption and MBA-speak. Ray Winstone's Jedburgh is the stereotypical cleaner, sent in to mop up inconvenient left-overs with maximum prejudice and minimum emotion. As Emma, Bojana Novakovic gets a potentially interesting but unfortunately minuscule role that she can do little with.

Nevertheless, veteran director Martin Campbell, who has on his resume the solid Bond episodes GoldenEye and Casino Royale, maintains a consistent level of tension as Thomas navigates his way through the web of deceit that claimed his daughter's life. Edge Of Darkness gains its strength from the depth of conspiracy and intensity of Craven's pain, rather than the exaggerated action set-pieces that plague most contemporary thrillers.

Edge Of Darkness may lack any sharply defined bolts of originality, but it succeeds as a mature reprisal drama, pessimism fuelling a story that comfortably progresses from dark to darkest.

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