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Edge Of Darkness Review

Originally for Campus Times, not enough room to be printed.

Thomas Craven (Mel Gibson) is a well respected Boston detective having put away many drug dealers and criminals in his career.  His daughter Emma Craven returns home for the first time in months to visit her dad. They settle down and have dinner, but upon leaving the house later that night Emma is shot right in front of him by a masked gunman who escapes. Police are quick to assume that Thomas Craven was the intended target. However through investigating his daughter’s death, not all is as it seems. Her boss (Danny Huston)is less than co-operative and  appears to be stopping him, and a strange ‘fixer’ (Ray Winstone) is giving him help for some reason. The more he investigates, the more it seems Emma Craven may have been the target all along…..

Word of warning: I will be comparing this to Taken. Edge of Darkness is the big screen adaption of an old British TV series of the same name, both produced by Michael Wearing.  Mel Gibson returns to the big screen after leaving the acting biz for quite some time, and his first leading role since Signs. The directing wasn’t really working out for you anyway Mel. Thomas Craven is dealing with some serious guilt trips, and Gibson plays him very well. This is vintage Mel Gibson. His Boston accent is probably the best thing in the film, along with his performance overall. The flashback scenes that show old memories of Craven and his daughter are very touching you definitely feel bad for the guy.  The action scenes are fast paced, exciting and very graphic.  I expected a few fist fights and maybe a shoot-out but when they do happen you won’t see it coming. It’s the equivalent of something jumping out and giving you a fright in a horror film. It is unfortunate there are only about 3 or 4 of them in the entire 2 hour long film. Some of the dialogue gets very interesting but doesn’t reach the levels of Frost/Nixon for example, which is what I wanted and was expecting.

Ray Winstone puts on a very good performance but isn’t used nearly enough.  He appears at random moments to progress the plot, but his side-story about not having long to live doesn’t really affect the story as a whole. His role was initially given to Robert De Niro, but De Niro walked out on the first day of shooting due to creative differences. The plot can get a bit complex, and I found myself confused at some points but the film kept going and getting more confusing in its conspiracy theory plot. I’ve mentioned the action scenes already, but as cool as they are it feels like they try to make it up for the lack of action in the last 30 mins. During his investigation Craven uses the same method of questioning repeatedly.”Did you know my daughta?” followed by “Do you know my daughta?” and then maybe “Okay, this guy says he don’t know my daughta but he sez you know my daughta?” Repeat this multiple times in thick Boston accent for the first half of the film.

Now for the fairly negative points. This film is a long, and noticeably long. A general rule of cinema is that if you realise how long a film is, you generally aren’t enjoying it. I got that a few times. All the scenes for very drawn out, probably for dramatic effect that is never quite successfully reached. Overall the plot just reminds me too much of Taken. And I would rather watch Taken. While Mel Gibson is great, to be honest you could have just cut the entire film down to one hour, added 30 minutes worth of Danny Glover and made it Lethal Weapon 5. Edge of Darkness isn’t the worst film in the world but it was disappointing. Mel Gibson investigating his daughter’s death while being watched by some creepy business-type guys just doesn’t compare to Liam Neeson killing the entire Albanian population in a big to get his daughter back. Watchable, but you shouldn’t go out of your way to see it. Seek out Taken instead.

5/10

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