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Edge of Darkness (A Movie Review)

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

Edge of Darkness

Edge of Darkness


Starring Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Bojana Novakovic, Shawn Roberts, David Aaron Baker, Jay O. Sanders, Denis O’Hare, Damian Young, Caterina Scorsone, Frank Grillo and Gabrielle Popa.

Screenplay by William Monahan and Andrew Bovell.

Directed by Martin Campbell.

Distributed by Warner Bros Pictures.  117 minutes.  Rated R.

It’s a little hard to believe, but Edge of Darkness is Mel Gibson’s first major acting job since starring in M. Night Shyamalan’s alien-invasion drama Signs in 2002.  (He also did a supporting role in The Singing Detective that same year.)

Of course, Mel never really disappeared during all that time – however much of the notice he received during those years was not necessarily for all the right reasons.

In his career, Mel shifted to filmmaker mode – writing, producing and directing the controversial but staggeringly popular biblical epic The Passion of the Christ and the pretty-much ignored Native American drama Apocalypto.  Gibson certainly showed some significant cojones for making each film completely in a dead language with subtitles (Aramaic for Passion, Yucatec Mayan for Apocalypto) – however, it was a huge stretch for a fan base who expected action films and the occasional light comedy from the man.

Then there was his personal life, which became a PR person’s nightmare.  There were quite a few protests that the Passion film was anti-Semitic.  Gibson had an admitted drinking problem, which culminated in the infamous LA traffic arrest that turned into an obviously intoxicated rant about Jews and women – adding the term “sugar tits” to the popular vernacular.  Later there was the break-up of his long-standing and apparently rock-solid marriage due to an affair with a Russian model that he had also impregnated.  Subsequently there was an ugly break-up with said model…

In the meantime, he hadn’t starred in a hit movie since What Women Want in 2000.

This guy needs career rehab, STAT!

Therefore, with Edge of Darkness, Gibson returns to the turf that made him a superstar.  He plays Thomas Craven, a Boston cop whose adult daughter comes home on a sudden visit only to become violently ill the first night and be shot down right next to him on his porch as he is trying to get her to the hospital.  This leads him on a stoic path to find out if he had been the target or whether his daughter had gotten involved in something dangerous.

Gibson has played in similar films before – Payback, Conspiracy Theory and Ransom come immediately to mind – but luckily Edge of Darkness does have some interesting ideas on how to shake up the old formula.

Of course, the truth becomes much deeper and more involved than anyone would imagine, leading to a labyrinth of multi-national corporations, government officials, the police, environmental activists and innocent bystanders.

You could safely lay odds that someone in the force will dime him out – and be pretty sure from the beginning which policeman it will be.

While the story is somewhat predictable, it is well paced and smart – and has a wild card.  That is character actor Ray Winstone as a shady government fixer with a Cockney accent and questionable motives who keeps popping up on the periphery of the case.  This character is by far the most intriguing of the story and the few times when Winstone shares the screen with Gibson, it raises the star’s game significantly.

Will Edge of Darkness return the luster to Gibson’s somewhat tarnished star?  Probably not, there is a little too much of a been-there-done-that feel to the movie to really cause any great excitement in audiences.  However, in the actor’s career it is definitely a step back in the right direction.  If he can follow it up wisely, Gibson’s career could get back on track.  If not, he has still made a smart and rather enjoyable conspiracy thriller.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2010 All rights reserved. Posted: May 7, 2010.

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