Edge of Darkness marks Mel Gibson’s return to acting, after a nearly eight-year gap between Darkness and his last starring role in 2002’s Signs. Yet Gibson’s recent directorial efforts – including 2004’s smash The Passion of the Christ – have kept him busy (and sharp) in the interim. His gritty performance in Edge of Darkness, moreover, is another much-needed boost of momentum.
For director Martin Campbell, the story is likewise; after his directorial success with 2006’s Casino Royale, Edge of Darkness comes as a step in the right direction. The film itself should be applauded not only for its performances, but also for its tense scenes and thrilling action. And while it may appear remarkably similar to last year’s Taken, I can assure you that Edge of Darkness is a slightly better (though not as fun) film.
Parts of the film, though, are very like Taken. In much the same vein, Darkness follows Thomas Craven (as played by Gibson), a homicide detective searching for the truth behind his daughter Emma’s murder. Tom is a single man with no other apparent family; after witnessing his daughter get shot before his own eyes by two unidentifiable men, he is forced to seek revenge for the only family he seemingly ever had. In the process, Craven uncovers a long and excessively complicated link between his daughter’s tragic death and a corporate scandal involving the hidden manufacture of nuclear weapons.
Set in present-day Boston, the film gives Gibson a chance to convincingly sport the local accent. Much to my surprise, he is quite successful, while also remaining tough in a manner reminiscent of his work in films like 1999’s Payback. Although the pacing of the film is slow and dense at points, Edge of Darkness still has a number of very gripping scenes that make the ride a worthwhile one. Think of it as a more dramatic, albeit less action-focused version of Taken.
Despite the supposedly anticipated return of Mel Gibson, though, Edge of Darkness made little impression on American audiences this past weekend. Coming in behind the seventh weekend of Avatar in its debut with only $17.2 million, the film is struggling to promote that it is actually worth seeing. Hopefully this review will somehow aid its cause. In the end Edge of Darkness is a tense thriller that, if nothing else, is a step up from most other crap releases out there (I’m looking at you, When in Rome) right now.
Edge of Darkness is playing at the Hamilton Movie Theater now.