Friday, August 10, 2012

"Edge of Darkness" (2010)

Starring Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone and Danny Huston
Written by William Monahan and Andrew Bovell
Directed by Martin Campbell
Rated R - Violence, language
Running Time: 117 Minutes

Boston Homicide Detective Thomas Craven (Mel Gibson) is excited to have his daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic) home to visit.  But he suspects that something is bothering her, and when she begins to fall ill, he decides to take her to the doctor.  On their way out the door, a man with a shotgun blows Emma away, but leaves Craven uninjured.

Initially, Craven and his colleagues at the Boston PD believe that Craven was the intended target, but when he discovers an illegal, loaded pistol in her belongings, he begins to wonder if she was in some kind of trouble.  Soon enough, as he begins to dig into her life, he discovers that she may have crossed some very powerful people at a secret nuclear research facility in western Massachusetts.

Craven is paid a visit by the mysterious Mr. Jedburgh (Ray Winstone) who points Craven toward Emma's employers.  But Craven isn't sure Jedburgh is on his side, or can be trusted.  As the bodies begin to pile up, Craven himself is now a target, and powerful forces will stop at nothing to keep him silent.

"Edge of Darkness," a thriller based on an old British TV miniseries, was Mel Gibson's first starring role in something like eight years.  With all of his public legal troubles, even the fact that it's a pretty decent movie couldn't help it.

Gibson's performance is pretty solid in terms of his usual ability to project intensity, but his attempt at a Boston accent is fairly annoying.  As a Boston area native, I usually find that the accents in these movies are pretty over-done.  This one is no exception.  Gibson's accent goes in an out, so maybe if he'd just been able to keep it consistent it wouldn't be so noticeable.

Otherwise the script is full of capable performers, many of whom are recognizable character actors like Danny Huston and Frank Grillo.  The film is photographed well, with lots of outdoor photography to show off how really gorgeous Massachusetts can look.  Martin Campbell, who directed "Goldeneye" and "Casino Royale" as well as the unfortunate "Green Lantern" stages a number of scenes that are quite engaging, and a couple of surprising bursts of violence that are pretty cool.

There are a couple of twists in the film that are also quite intriguing, and the script and direction are capable enough to make it all feel consistent.  If there's a problem with the script, it's that we are sometimes beaten over the head with the idea of the Massachusetts economy being dependent on R & D facilities.  It's a line repeated by several characters over the course of the film, and it stands out.

Otherwise, "Edge of Darkness" is a solid, entertaining thriller.  It's perhaps too bad that it couldn't gather bigger business, but the reputation of its main star is a drag.