Edge of Darkness is essentially a revenge picture, and in that area it accomplishes its goals thoroughly and entertainingly. The underlying corporate and government conspiracies don’t exactly feel new, but that’s of little consequence as serious Mel steadily works his way up the chain of command to exact bloody vengeance on those who’ve wronged him. Though Martin Campbell directs this re-envisioning of his acclaimed BBC series, Gibson’s influence is clearly there, from the weightier R rating to his more brutal sense of cathartics. Only in Mel Gibson movies do the bad guys pay double for their crimes.
Distanced from his daughter Emma’s (Bojana Novakovic) adult life, Boston police detective Thomas Craven (Mel Gibson) is elated by her sudden visit. His merriment quickly gives way to horror when she is gunned down in front of their home in what appears to be an attempt on his life. Grief-stricken and determined to find Emma’s killers, Craven begins to track down her friends and employers and soon uncovers his daughter’s secret life, a massive corporate conspiracy, and a dangerous assassin charged with cleaning up the mess.
Almost everything in Edge of Darkness has been done before. But that doesn’t stop the film from being a 100% effective revenge flick, complete with anti-hero good guys, devilish villains, and a climax that will have you wanting to give a standing ovation. These movies are never about the cookie-cutter conspiracy theory, or the broadly drawn supporting characters, or even the victims who need bloody vengeance. It’s about old-fashioned, wholesome comeuppance and getting to see protagonists use the law and unlikely skills in their favor while the antagonists pay dearly.
Gibson is involved in some of the best payback films. He’s constantly righting wrongs vigilante style, dealing with the deaths of family members, working alone, throwing caution to the wind and being a general tough guy. The inevitable dangerous people are present, along with cover-ups, crooked cops, politicians, national security breaches and the highest-up government folks. But these characters, like the labyrinthine plot itself, full of clues, hunches, trails of dead bodies (and predictable deaths) and the lingering sense of being in over his head, are practically meaningless compared to the payoff. Rarely are film’s existences completely justified by the final few minutes of screentime, but Edge of Darkness earns its satisfactory marks with just such a scheme. It’s outlandish, fantastical, unbelievable and farfetched, but it’s undeniably rewarding. It’s this year’s Taken but with the much appreciated edginess of an R-rating. Bad guys take note: always kill Mel Gibson’s character first.
– The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)