Edge Of Darkness

Edge Of Darkness

***

Reviewed by: Donald Munro

With Edge Of Darkness, director Martin Campbell revisits his BBC TV series. The series, highly regarded at the time, aired in 1985. It was a tense political thriller about the nuclear industry in Briton. The Cold War was still in full swing, nuclear annihilation still a distinct possibility, and the UK was still deep in Thatcher's economic malaise. The film's storyline has been updated to reflect current concerns such as the war on terror, its setting moved to Boston, Massachusetts.

Emma Craven (Bojana Novakovic), an intern at the Northmoor nuclear facility, returns home to visit her father, police detective Ronald Craven (Mel Gibson). She has something to tell him. As she becomes ill, Ronald tries to rush her to hospital, but just as he gets her out of his front door a masked man unloads both barrels of a sawn-off shotgun into her. Ronald's colleagues believe he was the target of the murderer, someone from his past out to take revenge, but as Ronald investigates his daughters death it becomes apparent that she was the real target. The mysterious Jedburgh (Ray Winstone) becomes involved.

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The film does feel like it has been cut down from something that was far bigger and is a little awkward, clumsy as it tells rather than shows. At clandestine meetings characters say things like "This meeting isn't happening," just to make sure that we the audience know that it's secret. Do Centers and CEOs normally have face to face meetings in the middle of deserted industrial wastelands? Too much is signposted. This also goes for Ronald and Emma's father-daughter relationship. Throughout the film there are a number of flashbacks that attempt reinforce its closeness. These saccharine scenes are ultimately superfluous as both Gibson and Novakovic are more than capable of demonstrating it within a couple of minutes of being on set together.

The occasional anachronism or inaccuracy, such as wide screen home video from 1990 (yet another sentimental flashback) or the incorrect depiction of how radiation sickness goes, can give suspended disbelief a real jolt. All that said, the film does pull a couple of genuine surprises. The relation ships between Ronald and Emma, and Ronald and Jedburgh are well played and there are reasonably good performances in the supporting roles. There are some nice touches in the script, the way it exposes the hollowness of phrases like "I'm sorry for your loss," and occasional snippets of dark humour. Action sequences, when they happen, are well done and exciting. Gibson has always been good at those.

All in all Edge of Darkness is entertaining. Its main flaw is the heavy handed way in which it gets the plot from A to B. After several years, Gibson has made a successful return to the screen. Winstone plays Jedburgh's ambiguity nicely and Novakovic is engaging for the short time she is on screen. But unfortunately the script is heavy on sentimentality and light on darkness.

Reviewed on: 29 Jan 2010
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A former detective uncovers his daughter's secret life and the reasons why people want her dead.
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Stephen Carty ***1/2

Director: Martin Campbell

Writer: William Monahan, Andrew Bovell

Starring: Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Bojana Novakovic, Shawn Roberts, David Aaron Baker, Jay O. Sanders, Denis O'Hare, Damian Young, Caterina Scorsone, Frank Grillo, Wayne Duvall, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Gabrielle Popa, Paul Sparks

Year: 2010

Runtime: 117 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK, US

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