“The Edge of Darkness” Movie Review

     When I heard of Mel Gibson’s return to the screen after more than 7 years, I immediately said it would be a must see.  Even the trailer for “Edge of Darkness” seemed to sufficiently draw me in with its revenge plot and action sequences.  Unfortunately, Mel Gibson’s return is not satisfying and I probably should have known.  I should’ve known it would merely be a film made to ride the coat tails of a much better “father gets revenge” film, Taken.  I should’ve known a film which the studio bosses determined would get a mid January release wouldn’t fit the bill as a blockbuster, but rather another dull entry into the January dumping ground.

     I suppose this thriller’s plot was suitable enough to where a decent film could have been made.  The film’s director, Martin Campbell, sets the story in motion when Emma Craven, daughter of Gibson’s character, comes home to visit her father, Thomas Craven, with something on her mind.  She doesn’t seem to be herself and soon gets sick to the point of vomiting at the dinner table.  Convinced she needs medical attention, Thomas and Emma leave for the hospital, only to have Emma gunned down on the front door step by a supposed hit man.

     Thomas is a veteran Boston homicide detective and I think we all know what happens next.  In the spirit of Liam Neeson’s much better film, Craven goes rogue to solve his daughter’s murder.  There is nothing new here.  The bad guys are another caricature of corporate greed.  Business men and politicians who will stop at nothing for the almighty dollar, even if it means killing a few interns.  Nothing we haven’t seen before and the villains are not memorable.

     I recall the summer of 2008, when another anticipated film hit theaters which would team Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino together for the first time since Heat.  Righteous Kill seemed to have all the makings of a film to remember.  Unfortunately, the writers checked out and we were left with two great actors who didn’t have anything remotely interesting to say.  I found Edge of Darkness to be in the same category.  Gibson is still a good screen persona, but without the wise cracks of Martin Riggs or the intensity of William Wallace, he doesn’t have the material here to succeed.

     When we last saw a Martin Campbell film, we witnessed a superior reboot of the James Bond series in Casino Royale.  Campbell demonstrated his ability to stage amazing action sequences with a creative flare.  Where is that here?  Edge of Darkness plays very dull and very boring.  The scenes in which Gibson is supposed to appear tough seem forced and they are few and far between anyway.  Gibson disarms a would be bad guy who attacks him with a knife!  We saw that done much more convincingly in the Bourne Trilogy.  Gibson tortures bad guys for information!  We saw that done more creatively in Taken and Man on Fire.  You get the picture here?  You’ve already seen the movie done better.

     Mel Gibson is one of the finest actors of our time and he should know that comes with a great responsibility.  When his name headlines a film, we expect it achieve a certain level.  The level we are looking for is not some mediocre entry into the revenge genre.  I can only hope he has something in the cards for us which will again return him to prominence (I hear Quentin Tarantino is really good at reviving acting careers).  If your looking to see a film this month, see one of the recently released Oscar hopefuls and take a pass on this slow, clunky, thriller wannabe.  This, my friends, is what we call a “renter”.