Review: Edge of Darkness

NOTE: With this review I start a new rating scale. From now on, films will either get a “kudos” or “goober” rating. “Kudos” is good, “goober” is not. So here goes…

Rating: Kudos

Mel Gibson gives a great performance in “Edge of Darkness.” He is often pissed off, usually out of his mind and always brutal. Watching him give this performance reminds us of him in “Payback.” He’s mean, and he should be.

If you’ve read anyone else’s review of this film, you will see them complaining about the tired plot. It is a tired plot, but don’t let that sway you. The trick to a tired premise is in how it’s written, directed and acted. The plot is about a Boston cop named Craven (Gibson), who witnesses his daughter’s murder one night. Now… but you know what now. Vengeance. When reading others’ reviews on the film, and all their rants about the plot, I’m reminded of the direct-to-video film starring Steven Seagal called “Out for a Kill.” It’s the same set-up, but executed terribly on all the requirements listed above. It’s so bad, it’s unwatchable.

So when I’m reminded of that film when I watch “Edge of Darkness,” I stop thinking about the cliché plot and start looking for other things about the film that make it better than “Out for a Kill” and all its clones.

One advantage this film has from all its predecessors is the depth of the story. A lot is going on in this film, enough to keep the viewer engaged. The action is also hard-boiled and swift, with quick editing from Stuart Baird (who also worked on “Casino Royale”). “Edge of Darkness” is a good-looking film, and the script from William Monahan (“The Departed,” “Body of Lies”) and Andrew Bovell keeps twisting away with new developments at every turn.

Director Martin Campbell (“Goldeneye,” “Casino Royale”) also does a decent job delivering the goods. He stays with Gibson’s character Craven through most of the film, leaving his side for only a few plot-important scenes. His style is good and he handles each scene well.

The villains in the film, namely Danny Huston’s corporate head, are a little disappointing at times as they are occasionally being evil for evil’s sake. When Huston asks Gibson how does it feel to lose a daughter, it seems a little too sinister for a film that is trying to take itself seriously. It’s a setback, but it doesn’t stop the film from entertaining. Danny Huston recently played Colonel Stryker recently in  “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” I feel like these two roles are rather similar. Huston is a good actor and I hate to see him typecast.

These shortcomings aside, “Edge of Darkness” is still a well-made action flick. It’s not top of the line, but it gets the job done. And I think that’s good enough for a kudos.

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