EDGE OF DARKNESS

http://edge-of-darkness.warnerbros.com/

USA / UK 2010   Directed by: Michael Campbell  Produced by: Tim Headlington, Graham King, Michael Wearing  Script: William Monahan, Andrew Bovell  Cinematography: Phil Meheux  Editing: Stuart Baird  Music: Howard Shore  Cast: Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Bojana Novakovic

Seems we’re havin’ our American McMovie week, steering clear of the Asian movie scene for a few days. We’re not sure who’s been waiting for Mel Gibson’s return to acting actually, but we figured we owe him for MAD MAX and gave EDGE OF DARKNESS a try.

The film fits into the latest run of revenge flicks and starts like all the others: Daddy watching a video of his then-still-young daughter. We wonder how often can you copy the exact same opening scene? DEATH SENTENCE, TAKEN, EDGE OF DARKNESS, the first 10 minutes are interchangeable. Seems EDGE OF DARKNESS didn’t give a damn and copied the movie poster art of DEATH SENTENCE as well. Why do it yourself if you can copy it, right?

After the beginning EDGE OF DARKNESS takes a different turn: Gibson’s daughter seems to be terminally ill and gets killed in a drive-by shooting on daddy’s doorsteps. Gibson playing the cop Thomas Craven first thinks he was the target, but soon finds out that his daughter was involved in the affairs of a big bad corporation and might have been high up on their blacklist.

We must admit that we do like revenge flicks. DEATH SENTENCE was good, TAKEN was great. Now EDGE OF DARKNESS is, ahm, a copycat. That alone doesn’t mean it has to be much worse than other films, but something went wrong. We’ve discussed sincerity of movies before, and most probably sincerity is what went wrong. EDGE OF DARKNESS, directed by Martin “James Bond” Campbell and starring Mel “Mad Max was yesterday” Gibson simply doesn’t have the street cred.

It appears that someone just wanted to ride the wave and didn’t know exactly how to do it. The basic plot and dramaturgy are business as usual, but the venture to embed the story into a bigger context to get away from the simple plot of other revenge movies doesn’t work at all. EDGE OF DARKNESS derails completely and gets more ridiculous by the minute, presenting us a stupid conspiracy story surrounding the corporation that is big and bad for obvious reasons. They are actually producing nukes for other countries while being contracted by the US government? No shit. If the scriptwriter (Monahan copied INFERNAL AFFAIRS and re-titled it as THE DEPARTED; congrats) would follow the daily news he would have realized that reality is far, far worse and more complex than his fictional attempt to surprise us with “the shocking truth”.

Since the story makes very little sense we were hoping for some raw action. Mel does have some good lines and the finale is pretty ok. But too many things about EDGE OF DARKNESS are anything but ok. Most of the time Gibson’s acting is somehow off the mark, the same goes for the rest of the cast that is so so-so that it is too obvious they were relying on Gibson’s name alone. Especially Gibson’s reactions and behavior right after the death of his daughter are absolutely not believable. His facial expressions are mostly weird. The shoddy cinematography reminds of Italian crime flicks from the early 80s, and the editing seems jumpy and unfinished. The whole film is bizarre, everything seems out-of-place, either too much or not enough, like Campbell is steering a tiny metal ball through a wooden haze. Plus some hygienic factors are not alright, e.g. some outdoor/indoor locations don’t match and so forth. Raw action? EDGE OF DARKNESS tries, succeeds once or twice, but otherwise doesn’t deliver the goods. Neither the “secrets” nor the movie take us to the edge.

EDGE OF DARKNESS is entirely forgettable as far as content is concerned, and unfortunately form follows function. It’s watchable, yes, but you’ll have to get over the fact that this is a cheesy B-movie disguised as A-list material very quickly, say, after the opening scene. If that works for you, you might find EDGE OF DARKNESS at least funny.

J.




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