Peter Eramo Reviews: “Edge of Darkness”

I didn’t know much about this film going in except for the fact that (a) this was Mel Gibson’s first starring role in eight years and  (b) he was pissed off and not making any arrests. Good enough for me, so I checked it out.

Gibson plays Boston homicide detective Thomas Craven who is a single father to Emma (Bojana Novakovic), his 24 year-old daughter. I’m not giving anything away here (I don’t do spoilers in my reviews) by saying that she is brutally killed right in front of him and what we are left with is a very typical revenge film. Craven wants no part of working with his colleagues on this one. No…this time, it’s personal (Thank God he doesn’t say that). Unfortunately, we are not given much that is new here in Martin Campbell’s thriller. In conducting his own investigation as to who murdered his daughter, Craven uncovers not only his daughter’s secret life after graduating MIT, but also a world of corporate conspiracy with the government authorizing murders to make sure that their secrets stay secret. In his search, he runs across Jedburgh (Ray Winstone), a government “cleaner” sent in to keep an eye on Craven and sweep up the remaining mess and all evidence left behind. During his search for answers (and ultimately, revenge) Craven is being followed, he gets assaulted, he cracks some heads, you know the drill.

What makes the film engaging is Mel Gibson. It’s his movie and if you’re a fan of his, you will most likely enjoy this one. At the core of the film, we have a father who loved his daughter more than anything else, and Gibson illustrates this well (as he usually does playing characters experiencing a terrible loss). We empathize with him and see his agony on his sleeve. There are some very sweet flashbacks here of Craven and his daughter and in the brief time we see him with his grown-up girl, we see a very close bond between the two. Danny Huston is well cast as Jack Bennett, the president of the company behind all of the mysterious murders, though it would be nice to see Huston play something other than the man we root against. The scenes between Gibson and Winstone are very intriguing and dramatic. We never know exactly where Jedburgh stands until the very end, which keeps you on your toes. Winstone has a powerful screen presence and you can see why he’s been a very busy actor lately (IMDB lists 8 films he has in pre-production at the time of this writing).

I suppose I was hoping for a much more original screenplay here. This is a revenge film that doesn’t veer too far away from recent others of its kind such as “Death Sentence,” “The Brave One,” “Taken” and “Law Abiding Citizen.” One sequence in particular upset me — you know when superheroes get caught (the Batman TV series was famous for this) and he isn’t just killed right there on the spot? No, that would just be too easy, right? So what do they do? They have to imprison their capture and conduct an “extra special” killing and delay the inevitable…the hero pulling off a grand escape from the dungeons of evil. I was surprised to get that here. So in the end, yes, Mel kept me watching, but overall, it doesn’t bring much that is new to the table…I was hoping for much more from his big comeback.

Director:  Martin Campbell
Year:        2010


2 Responses to Peter Eramo Reviews: “Edge of Darkness”

  1. rorydean says:

    Hey Peter,

    Found your review here of Edge of Darkness and wanted to share my own review if you’re interested. I think we share some similar thoughts on what ultimately proves Gibson’s ability to be both strong and vulnerable, surprising and very, very comfortable looking uncomfortable in front of the camera. As Marc said, I think Martin Campbell is a solid filmmaker.

    As far as Huston goes, if you haven’t seen him in the Australian Western The Proposition you’re really in for a surprise. He is pretty amazing along with Guy Pierce, John Hurt and Ray Winstone. Huston also had a minor role in Children of Men which was good, albeit brief.


  2. Marc says:

    I was in the same boat as you in your opening sentence. I just saw this for the first time on Monday and Holy Crap did I enjoy this! I really wasn’t expecting much but I think being a Martin Campbell picture had something to do with it:) Action was pretty high and the opening scene with his daughter really grabbed me and never let go til the end.

    Glad you called attention to Huston. I for one like him and between this and Robin Hood, I think it’ll allow him, in the future, to show off more legitimate acting chops than previously showcased in X-Men Origins and 30 Days of Night.

    Lastly, I wasn’t too put off by his accent, but is just me or Mel Gibson about as short as Mel Brooks?

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