HOLLYWOOD —Mel Gibson’s “Edge Of Darkness” did not leave me on the edge of my seat. There comes a time in Hollywood when a career starts to flounder and you wish the person well and hope that their next film will be their biggest hit ever, their reinvention of their sullied reputation will be successful. Mel Gibson’s film certainly had me hoping for the best and yet after seeing it, I felt as if I’d watched “Conspiracy Theory” again, a film I saw well over a decade ago starring Gibson and Julia Roberts.
The haunting specter of Thomas Craven’s (Gibson’s character) lost daughter did seem a bit intriguing, but I suppose I had felt or hoped that the ending would bring some redeemable point or highlight to the haunting presence we watched and endured through this film and through the character’s eyes. The official synopsis released by the studio states, “Thomas Craven, is a detective who has spent years working the streets of Boston. When his own daughter is killed near the door of his home, Craven realizes that her death is only one piece of an intriguing puzzle filled with corruption and conspiracy, and it falls to him to discover who is behind the crime.” Sure the film gets down to the mystery of it all, but I was left empty when thinking about the horrific death and how it didn’t add to the emotion of the film and was not conveyed to the audience.
Gibson has possibly through lack of talent as an actor or simply his real-life experiences over the past few years, caused him to become almost desensitized and is unable to carry emotion from within to the audience in the theater. In “Edge of Darkness” he just didn’t seem very much in the moment. I felt cheated by the hype and preconceived ideas I may have had expecting something emotionally driven like “Avatar” or “The Blind Side.” I always feel that if a child is ever murdered in a film or on a TV show that there needs to be more than an emotional payoff, but a change in the characters that show the depth of despair a parent and those around the family would actually feel and yet, like watching “Passion of the Christ” I was left thinking, this is Mel Gibson’s crusade, not that he’s trying to give any real point. Yet Gibson’s character, Craven, was not someone I felt cared about anyone, only about revenge. He needed to grieve in addition to look for clues to the various mysteries, which was necessary if he wanted the audience to connect with his film.
Ray Winstone as Jedburgh perhaps should have played Gibson’s role. Whatever he did as an actor, he surely connected with the audience. He’s really the only reason to see the film. Director Martin Campbell did manage to move the story along in a fast but deliberate pace that made you feel like things were happening in real-time. However, I enjoyed his ’90s “Mask of Zorro” a lot more than I did this picture.
“Edge of Darkness” gets Three of Five Stars for Winstone’s great performance. My suggestion is rent the 1943 version starring the incredible Walter Huston from your video store.