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USA 2010
Directed by
Martin Campbell
117 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Andrew Lee
3.5 stars

Edge Of Darkness

Synopsis: When Boston cop Thomas Craven (Mel Gibson) sees his daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic) gunned down beside him, the police believe the gunshot was intended for him. As he involves himself in the investigation he discovers Emma’s involvement in a labyrinthine government conspiracy.

Troy Kennedy-Martin’s 1985 miniseries Edge of Darkness remains one of the most incredible pieces of paranoid fantasy ever put to screen. And I mean each of those words to be taken separately. Blending political intrigue, espionage with eco-terrorism and the Gaia hypothesis, it was originally intended to end with Craven turning into a tree (they went with something different in the end). Now, more than twenty years later, the director of the miniseries, Martin Campbell, revisits the material that put him on the map as a director of note. But when condensing a six hour miniseries, some things were bound to be left out. So… gone is the environmental mysticism and the creeping sense that the Earth itself is preparing to wipe out humanity, gone are the political intrigues of the United Kingdom’s involvement in Northern Ireland. Some of this is wise (the new setting is, after all, Boston), some of it is a bit of shame, but what remains is a grippingly tense thriller, though the impotent rage and doom of the miniseries is replaced with a man with a gun executing bloody vengeance.

Taken on its own, this new version of Edge of Darkness is full of paranoid intimations and an energetic plot that propels itself forward with little to no time for reflection. It’s all forward momentum as Thomas hunts down the men responsible for his daughter’s death. The storyline is good, the revelations slowly unearthing more and more crooked dealing and morally bankrupt behaviour, though it does make the mistake of trying to explain the reason for all this deception, murder and mayhem. It might just be me, but paranoid thrillers lose something when they give clear definition to the nefarious schemes of the villains, even if those schemes are, indeed, very nefarious. But I really didn’t mind, because Campbell takes us on such an engaging and visceral ride. Mel Gibson has been off our screens for far too long, and while he’s proven he’s a very talented director, he’s a great actor. There’s a cinematic rule that’s been in existence since Mad Max launched his career. You do not mess with Mel’s family, he will annihilate all obstacles between himself and the violent end you will meet at his hands. And Craven as the “man out for vengeance” is classic Mel

Those obstacles are considerable. There’s insane corporate bigwig Jack Bennett, played with glee by Danny Huston, a bunch of faceless myrmidons, and the mysterious Jedburg, played with calm menace by Ray Winstone. Exactly what Jedburg’s up to is uncertain, but he’s clearly playing both sides for his own purposes. His final actions are slightly perplexing in this regard, but it does lend to their shock value. Winstone is always watchable and this is no exception.

Campbell is a director unafraid to deliver his action in short sharp bursts that strike you hard. Fittingly for a story about an Irish Catholic cop, the action is suffused with the sense of a vengeful God watching and approving. It may not be the weird and wonderful work of genius that the original was, but this year’s Edge of Darkness is still a thriller to watch.




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