Sunday, May 30, 2010

Edge of Darkness: Grade C

Edge of Darkness (2010)
Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Bojana Novakovic ; Director Martin Campbell.

This is a smart comeback vehicle for Gibson, after screw-ups in his personal life more or less destroyed his superstar status. It is a traditional paranoid whistleblower thriller in which a woman (Novakovic) tries to report illegal government activity at a nuclear weapons site and is finally forced to “go public” with her information, and she goes public to her dad (Gibson), a Boston police detective. As he gets closer to the truth the body count mounts.

Gibson does a respectable acting job, considering the stereotypical role. He is a good actor (I’ve seen him do Hamlet), but the screen persona we want to see is the fearless action hero. Here, he is altogether too serious, sporting a contrived “pained” look throughout. Obviously, he couldn’t be a cocky, wise-cracking cop and project the humility required for his comeback.

Ray Winstone is the one who jumps out in this film though. He’s a terrific actor who’s been around forever and is only recently getting some attention (He starred in “44-inch Chest,” reviewed in this blog recently). His character, a hired killer, oozes menace, but also subtlety and complexity. A fine performance.

The movie is based on a BBC television series and that’s how it plays, like TV. The story has lots of arbitrary twists and turns, which is what happens when writers have to come up with a new thrill every week, so there isn’t much coherence to it all. There are plenty of loose ends and non-sequiturs, and so many bad guys you might need a scorecard. So it is not a satisfying thriller and its anti-government-corruption message is not anything new, and the acting is only slightly above average. Directing and cinematography are unremarkable. Still, it is nice to see Mel with an automatic pistol in his hand again.

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