A few years, several bottles of alcohol and an anti-Semitic rant later, Mel Gibson returns to theaters with the revenge thriller Edge of Darkness, directed by Martin Campbell - the man behind Casino Royale and Goldeneye. Though it has struggled at the box office, the movie is a blast, full of stinging dialogue, a gritty performance by Gibson and a satisfyingly bloody climax.
Gibson plays Boston homicide detective Thomas Craven, who is delighted that his daughter is coming home to visit. But when she arrives, Craven is disheartened to see that she's struggling with some kind of illness. Before he can take her to the hospital, a gunman shows up at his door and kills her. While his comrades attempt to determine which one of his enemies hates him enough to have him killed, a devastated Craven begins to investigate his daughter's life and the company she worked for, a defense contractor that handles nuclear materials. As he digs deeper, it soon becomes clear that his daughter was in over her head, and that the company will stop at nothing to bury the truth. Unfortunately for them, he's a guy with nothing to lose.
Edge of Darkness is a slickly made, grisly thriller that satisfies from beginning to end. Though due to its release date it has been compared to last year's hit film Taken, Edge of Darkness relies more heavily on plot and less on action. Still, the movie is a perfect blend of compounding facts and bouts of bloody action that should satisfy any Mel Gibson fan.
The screenplay, written by William Monahan and Andrew Bovell, is excellent. The dialogue comes fast and furiously, making every scene a rich experience. The writers make the most of the material, elevating the plot beyond a typical revenge thriller.
Gibson, however, carries the movie. His grisly, rough-around-the-edges performance is one of the best of his career.
The movie has few flaws, and the ones it does are nitpicky. I wish they would have ended the movie with a newscast, which is only implied. Though a lot of elements are in play in the movie, it ultimately boils down to a very simple conclusion, one that is essentially revealed very early on; in other words, the movie isn't as complicated as the writers intended it to be.
Edge of Darkness is a deliciously satisfying thriller with a great performance by Gibson, a well-written screenplay and tense direction by Campbell. When all is said and done, Edge of Darkness will be one of the better movies of 2010.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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