Edge of Darkness

Time Out New York Project: Issue #748, January 28–February 3, 2010

Dir. Martin Campbell. 2010. R. 108mins. Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston.

The much-beloved 1985 British miniseries Edge of Darkness gets a Yankee redo with the same director, Martin Campbell, and Mel Gibson as Thomas Craven, a Boston flatfoot who turns rogue gumshoe after his daughter (Bojana Novakovic) is gunned down in cold blood. Gibson shapes the mood and rhythm of this feature-length digest version as surely as the late Bob Peck (whom stateside audiences might remember as Jurassic Park’s raptor hunter, Muldoon) did with the series. This means there’s more emphasis on bloodlust than grief — a shame considering the mini’s most powerful moments explored Craven’s deeply conflicted agony. There’s no room for such soul-searching uncertainty with Gibson. After a few rapidly ticked-off minutes of gloom, the mission is clear: Get the sons of bitches, and make ’em pay. 

That’s not to say the sight of Mad Mel going apeshit is unsatisfying. And it’s particularly affecting whenever he acts his age, as when an impromptu bout of hand-to-hand combat ends with Craven near-fatally winded. But as the plot mechanics — involving a nuclear plant, a shady senator (in Massachusetts? who’da thunk?), and a glowering spook (Winstone) — come to a head, interest wanes. 

Despite Campbell and cinematographer Phil Meheux’s consistently expert framing, which makes it seem like a bullet or some blunt instrument could strike at any moment, the stress marks of a troubled shoot show. We’re left with several solid parts in a compromised whole: For every delicious scene with Danny Huston or Denis O’Hare as slimy corporate bigwigs there’s a head-slapper — like a climax that cribs, with unintentional hilarity, from Ghost. (Opens Fri.)—Keith Uhlich