Mel Takes No Prisoners in the Edge of Darkness

Edge of DarknessWhat’s better than a movie about a father hell bent on revenge over his daughter’s murder?  Plot lines rarely get more visceral and thrilling as do these type of tales.  I said it before and I will say it again, a father’s love for his daughter knows no boundaries and from the trailers of Mel Gibson’s latest film opening this Friday, Edge of Darkness, it looked like I was dead on with my way of thinking.

The concept and story of Edge of Darkness is actually nothing new.  The film is an adaptation of the 1985 BBC television series of the same name.  It is directed by Martin Campbell and produced by Michael Wearing, who also directed and produced the television series.  The film stars none other than the “lethal weapon” himself, Mel Gibson.  Other familiar faces include Ray Winstone and Danny Huston.  Bojana Novakovic plays the murdered daughter.

There was a strong buzz among the Internet fanboy websites last summer over the initial trailer for Edge of Darkness.  Being a reluctant disciple of such sites, that’s fervently how I first heard about the film. Going into this preview screening I had many expectations of what I hoped and wanted to see happen.  But the main question brewing on my frontal lobes was whether or not I was in store for another non-stop thrill ride like last year’s Taken or would this film be a little more subdued?  The trailers do make it look more mob related than the international follies of Liam Neeson in Taken, but we have all been fooled by trailers before (i.e. Legion).  They say curiosity kills the cat, but curiosity is what makes this reviewer’s heart tick and I anxiously awaited Tuesday, January 26th to see if I could add yet another potential Blu-ray title to my collection later on in the year. 

So if I was a fortune teller I would guess without hesitation that the million dollar question you have all been patiently waiting to ask me is how was it?  Well unfortunately, as it happens time and time again with me, my expectations got the best of me.  I don’t know?  Maybe I have grown so numb to the typical Mel Gibson plot line where he loses a loved one and seeks out revenge towards those responsible (The Patriot and Braveheart come instantly to mind) that I just don’t feel the connection or bond anymore.  Don’t get me wrong, both those Gibson movies I just brought up are in my Top 20 list of films ever made, but I wasn’t feeling this film.  I was ecstatic to see Mel in a new movie, exiting his 7-year hiatus from acting, but I was expecting much more.  Maybe I am in the minority here, but with the exception of one emotional kitchen scene between him and another police officer, his acting chops were not that convincing as I have grown accustomed to in his past features.

The premise of the movie is actually quite simple and the filmmakers wasted no time in setting the movie up and getting the wheels rolling.  Thomas Craven’s (Mel) daughter is murdered right in front of him.  Gibson portrays a cop and naturally everyone thinks his daughter’s killer hit the wrong intended target and that Thomas must have enemies.  He refuses to believe this to be the case and he quickly finds that the conspiracy and mystery shrouding his daughter’s murder runs deeper than anyone cares to know or want to find out about.  Not letting anyone cloud his judgment or perception Thomas goes on a spiritual and physical journey of revenge, stopping at nothing to bring his daughter’s killer to justice; only his version of justice is a little different from letting them have their day in court. 

As Chris Stuckmann alludes to in his video review of the film, there are some moments in the movie that are just fantastic and plain shocking.  And I mean shocking in a good way.  I can vividly think of three moments where you just wanted to jump out of your seat in fright as actions played out onscreen that we the audience never saw coming.  I like those!  But those great moments were few and far apart.  Much like The Departed did, the film excelled in portraying a corrupt political landscape (cops, mob, politicians) set in the Boston locale.   But unlike The Departed, where I was instantly sucked into and connected to the characters in almost an Avatar-like style, I never felt the brooding bond in the Edge of Darkness.  In my opinion, despite the actors proper stressing of the accents, the dialog just always felt forced and unnatural.  I was never really into the story.  And that has a lot to do with the film’s pacing issues.  Much like my last review of the Book of Eli, slow pacing victimized this film.  Chris, in his video review, also says it perfectly when he compares it to Taken.  This is not Taken in any way, shape or form.  If you won’t be happy with anything less than the heart pounding, exploding action sequences in Taken, then this is not the film for you.

All my personal complaints are not meant to say that the Edge of Darkness is a bad film; it’s just that I expected more from Mel’s comeback.  I went in expecting a little more Patriot and Braveheart and what I left with felt more like the pabulum film We Were Soldiers.  What I did enjoy however was that they added a subtle supernatural aspect to it.  I liked that they experimented with Mel hearing his daughter’s voice from the grave and the guidance and comfort he received from it.  However, I don’t think it was extremely effective.  I can’t put my fingers on it, but there’s just something that did not work about it.  Oh well, you win some and you lose some.

Being a critic is hard.  You feel like you always want to like a film, but deep down inside you know you can’t please everyone with your tastes of what you think makes a good film.  You just got to write about what you feel is the best representation of what you saw and how you personally felt about it.  If I had to give this movie a rating out of 5, I could not in good faith, give this anymore than a score of 3.  I started feeling squeamish in my seat around half way through the feature and that’s always a bad sign.  The high octane trailers I saw during my favorite television shows tricked me into believing this was something it was not.  There are some great action moments to be had here, but like the infrequent fight scenes in the Rocky movies (and God I love them), the action is not as wild and rampageous throughout, as the previews make it out to be.  This is a no-brainer recommendation for all Mel Gibson fans, but a matinee showing for everyone else. 


Edge of Darkness Theatrical Poster




Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

1 Response to “Mel Takes No Prisoners in the Edge of Darkness”

  1. Gregg

    What a shame that this movie doesn’t soar. I’ll still probably give it a look-see, but as Terry Gilliam mentioned at last year’s Comic-Con, movies tend to show their best parts in the trailer. Then when you see the full feature, it falls short of expectations. ‘Legion’ is the perfect example. For some, myself included, the trailer was exciting, but man that movie stunk.