Thursday, December 9, 2010

Edge of Darkness Review

The Plot:
- A homicide detective (Mel Gibson) investigates the murder of his daughter and stumbles into a far larger conspiracy.

The Good:
- Sadly, Edge of Darkness underperformed at the box office because of all the (deserved) negative publicity surrounding Mel Gibson. Gibson, however, delivers one of the best performances of his career, far better than the pulpy material deserves. Even in his mid-50s Gibson is entirely credibly in action scenes. More importantly, he manages to deftly balance the sadness inherent in losing a child and the pure rage that drives him to find those responsible. The performance is most effective in the small genuine moments, such as a flashback to Gibson lightheartedly making a shaving cream beard on his daughter.
- Ray Winstone, as always, brings fantastic gravity to the movie. His scenes with Gibson are absolutely electric.
- Martin Campbell, director of Casino Royale, Goldeneye and Mask of Zorro, is one of the most competent directors working today in terms of staging action scenes. Each shot flows logically from the one prior and it's entirely possible to grasp the exact location and scale of all the moving pieces of a scene.
- Nice work in limited screen time by Bojana Novakovic who plays Gibson's daughter.

The Bad:
- The conspiracy theory plot, which dominates the film's second half, feels weak and out of place. The film was adapted from a six hour British serial drama so, perhaps, something was lost in translation.
- The often effective Danny Huston seems wasted in a smarmy role as the boss of the evil Halliburton-esque corporation behind the conspiracy.

The Verdict:
- While the film itself works as a solid action movie, the second half is muddled by an emphasis on the less compelling conspiracy aspects. The whole thing would have worked better as a pure revenge thriller. Mel Gibson, however, does such fantastic work with the material that I believe he deserves legitimate award consideration (which will, of course, never happen). Writing this in December of 2010, I still see Gibson's work as some of the finest of the year. Perhaps inspired by his nearly 8 year hiatus from starring roles, Gibson brings fantastic intensity and commitment to his character. I hope that people are someday able to separate Gibson the actor from Gibson the person so that his work can receive the credit it deserves.

Overall Score: 8/10

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