Having been absent from the screen as an actor since “Signs,” Mel Gibson unleashes his anger in this violent revenge-fueled thriller, playing a grief-stricken veteran homicide detective whose 24 year-old daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic), is gunned down in his arms on the doorstep of his Boston home.
Driven by guilt, believing he was the intended target, Thomas Craven (Gibson) is determined to track down her killer. But during his investigation, he finds her cell phone and Geiger counter and discovers that she may have been a whistle-blower, threatening to expose corporate corruption and a political conspiracy involving a Republican U.S. Senator (Damian Young) from Massachusetts. Emma was a research assistant at Northmoor, a private research-and-development compound with top-secret government research contracts, run by slick ‘n’ slimy CEO Jack Bennett (Danny Huston), who diabolically inquires what it “felt like” for Craven to lose his only child. Craven’s dogged pursuit of the secretive culprit puts him in direct conflict with cigar-smoking Darius Jedburgh (Ray Winstone), a lethal, cleverly manipulative British wheeler/dealer who works for an unnamed employer. Then there’s Emma’s bizarre boy-friend (Shawn Roberts) who’s terrified he’s going to be shot too.
Directed by Martin Campbell (“Casino Royale”), it’s actually a condensation of his award-winning helming of Troy Kennedy Martin’s six-hour BBC-TV mini-series (1985) that’s been adapted by William Monahan (Oscar-winner for “The Departed”) and Andrew Bovell (“Lantana”). During the quiet, talkative first half of the film, Gibson builds his complex, sympathetic, loner character; during the second half, the overwrought, convoluted plot disintegrates into standard-order, often senseless and inconsistent action with a ‘surprise’ villain who is easy to spot from the get-go.
It’s back-to-basics for Gibson whose first claim-to-fame was “Mad Max,” in which he played a police officer who went after the motorcycle gang that killed his wife and son. And as a side note, Robert DeNiro was originally attached to this project but reportedly withdrew due to creative differences.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Edge of Darkness” is an excessive, sinister 6, centering on maniacal, Mad Mel.