Perhaps the spate of “vengeful parent” thrillers over the past months—Taken, Law Abiding Citizen, the new Edge of Darkness—is a cinematic manifestation of our collective sense of helplessness in the face of seemingly insurmountable national and international crises. Or maybe I’m just over-thinking something fairly simple.
That precise malady seems to have struck the makers of Edge of Darkness, who miscalculate what can make this type of movie so appealing. Emerging from seclusion for his first mainstream starring role in eight years, Mel Gibson plays Tommy Craven, a Boston police detective whose only love outside of his work is his daughter Emma (Bojana Novokovic), a research assistant at a nuclear facility. While visiting Tommy, Emma is gunned-down outside his house—the initial suspicion is that it was a disgruntled criminal’s attempt on Tommy gone wrong. But as Tommy investigates Emma’s personal and professional life, he realizes that she may have had more dangerous enemies than he ever had.
Adapting a six-part 1980s British mini-series, screenwriters William Monahan (The Departed) and Andrew Bovell have to cram a lot of conspiracy-building content into two hours. There’s Emma’s chilly, soulless boss (chilly, soulless Danny Huston), a mysterious government “fixer” (Ray Winstone), a possibly corrupt U.S. senator (Damian Young) and a group of anti-corporate activists—it all starts to feel so densely packed that you get the feeling nobody can quite keep up with the details.
And in truth, you probably shouldn’t have had to. Director Martin Campbell pauses at times to focus on Craven being haunted by flashbacks and whispers of Emma’s voice, his grief becoming almost tangible. Compared to that emotion, the wranglings to cover things up are merely a distraction—the sizzle that over-cooks the steak.
EDGE OF DARKNESS
Mel Gibson, Danny Huston, Ray Winstone