Edge Of Darkness is a thriller based on a British TV miniseries and directed (just like the miniseries) by Martin Campbell of Casino Royale fame.
Mel Gibson plays respected Boston cop and single father Thomas Craven, who suffers the loss of his daughter, Emma, after she is gunned down on his doorstep. Emma, who had been vomiting blood, had something to tell her father, but is executed before she gets the opportunity.
Refusing to take a leave of absence, Craven investigates the death of his daughter and whether the gunshot was meant for him. As he unfolds conspiracy after conspiracy, he’s guided by the voice of his daughter and a shadowy agent, played by Ray Winstone. He uncovers the truth about Northmoor, a nuclear weapons company that employed Emma.
As the various threads untangle, Craven discovers his daughter was helping nuclear activists and her murder wasn’t a coincidence. Discovering political machinations, corporate ruthlessness and dangers from within, Craven must protect himself and discover the deadly truth, despite a much more dangerous and largely unseen threat looming.
In between the revenge thriller aspects of the film, there are some well designed action sequences: a car chase, Craven taking out a speeding vehicle with a handgun, and various escapes from danger that are all tightly executed, and will probably draw comparisons with scenes from Casino Royale or the Bourne films. It keeps the film moving along quickly and merges well with the deeper, more complex aspects of the plot.
Gibson delivers an immensely emotional performance as Craven as he seeks vengeance, tempered by his training as a police officer and life as a loving father. His performance is intense, laced with dark humour and rage. Winstone is also outstanding as the man tasked with stopping Craven, yet letting him continue his investigation. He’s cold and calculating, yet human.
Campbell’s direction is efficient and feels intensely personal, bringing you into the film and the emotions held within. Boston, as a backdrop, is beautiful and imposing. It’s a credit to Campbell and the cinematographer that the city, as mentioned in one of the featurettes, is practically a character in itself.
Four deleted scenes, presented in high definition, flesh out some of the secondary characters and some of the storyline. They’re worth watching and, as always, could have been threaded back into the film.
Edge Of Darkness has nine featurettes that can be played within the movie, individually, or as a feature in itself, all presented in high definition. The features include Martin Campbell’s recollection of the original miniseries, a section about Gibson’s return and how essential it was to the film, how the cast and crew loved working with him, and how Gibson feels about taking a lead role again.
Then there’s a director’s profile, looking far too briefly at Campbell’s influence on the styling of the film, ‘Craven’s War of Attrition’, which explores the revenge tragedy and political nature of the story, then a feature on making a ghost character real and how Emma revisits him.
These are followed by a look at Howard Shore’s scoring of the film and how he created the music based around Craven, a short piece on adapting the miniseries into a film, the use of Boston as a character and the exploitation of some of the known and lesser-known landmarks, and finally a short featurette that highlights the strengths of the film: it’s a thriller, it’s a whodunnit, and it keeps you on the edge of your seat.
It sounds like there’s a lot going on here, but it manages to come in at just over thirty minutes and each section is just too short, which is disappointing. I’d have loved more on the comparison with the original series, maybe even the first episode.
Though not everyone’s cup of tea, a director’s commentary would have made a nice addition to this package. It would have been fantastic to hear Campbell discuss how it differs and reflects his original work, perhaps even as a round table affair. One can dream, I suppose.
With a bitrate that stays steady at around the 25-30 Mbps mark, and an incredibly sharp picture, this is probably a film by which you can judge how well your television is reproducing colours. The result of such a good picture is that you can see every wrinkle on Gibson’s face as his plight worsens, making him seem more human and vulnerable as the film progresses. On top of this, the richly textured palette of Boston brings vibrancy to the darkness of the film.
The soundtracks, DTS and Dolby HD 5.1, make ample use of the centre speaker for dialogue, especially for Winstone’s low and rumbling voice, and the rest of your system for everything else. The DTS track does seem to have more bass to it, but this might just be my hearing. Talking of hearing, it’s sometimes hard to make out what Winstone and Gibson are saying as they speak in hushed and gruff tones, so you might want to turn your centre speaker up.
All in all, Edge Of Darkness is highly recommended for anyone who likes well written thrillers. It doesn’t feel saggy or bloated despite a running time of 133 minutes, and manages to remind us all that, despite his personal issues, Mel Gibson is still an outstanding actor.
Edge Of Darkness is out now on Blu-ray and available from the Den Of Geek Store.