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Style can't save sluggish Gibson thriller



Article Published: Feb. 4, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Style can't save sluggish Gibson thriller

"Where's Danny Glover when I need him?" Mel Gibson stars in Edge of Darkness.



Style can't save sluggish Gibson thriller

By Joel Frady

There's something very familiar about Edge of Darkness, a well-made but routine thriller starring Mel Gibson. Although I've never seen the BBC miniseries Edge is based on, I could sense an auto-pilot feel from the opening scenes - the trek from Point A to Point B contains few surprises.


I'll admit that part of me still wants to like Edge, which isn't a bad revenge movie. It's a perfectly acceptable revenge movie. If it had been made 25 years ago - when the miniseries was - it probably wouldn't have seemed as been there, done that.

But in those past 25 years, there have been a number of fantastic revenge movies: Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds, John Singleton's Four Brothers and Brian Helgeland's Payback (starring Gibson). Steven Soderbergh's The Limey is very similar to Edge, both featuring a father out to get revenge for his daughter's murder, but Limey contained several interesting surprises and shocking plot twists.

Edge follows the formula a little too closely and is, as a result, predictable to the point of boredom. It's a pity, too, because it's a really good-looking movie. But most movies from director Martin Campbell are really, really good looking - the man was chosen to reboot the Zorro franchise in 1998 and the James Bond franchise twice (Goldeneye in 1995 and Casino Royale in 2006). He also directed the 1985 Edge miniseries, which might have been the appeal of this project.

Campbell and cinematographer Phil Meheux (Casino Royale) shoot the film in that dark, grainy way that tells you it's supposed to be a gritty movie. Composer Howard Shore's (The Lord of the Rings) score is dark and foreboding, adding audible cues to indicate how gritty the movie is supposed to be.

I'll admit it was nice to see Gibson on screen again, as he hasn't been the lead since splitting audiences with Signs in 2002 (a film I loved but many hated). He seems at home with the material, but he's always done well with angry characters. Although Mad Max, Martin Riggs and William Wallace weren't solely out for revenge, they frequently had it on their minds. The main difference is that those characters were colorful and likable, while Gibson's Thomas Craven in Edge just broods a lot.

In Edge, Craven is a Boston cop out for revenge after his daughter is murdered on his front porch. He thinks that his daughter's killers were actually trying to kill him, so he sets out to find out who it was.

Along the way he meets Jedburgh (Ray Winstone, Beowulf), a strange man who shows up in Craven's yard offering advice. Jedburgh is probably the most interesting character in the film, but that isn't saying much.

Toward the latter part of the film, after most of the generic plot "twists," the high production quality becomes a distraction. It's just so boring, with Gibson brooding through scene after scene, that I started to think about how good it looked instead of whatever was going on.

One thing I've learned is that if you, at any point in the theater, find yourself thinking about how good a movie looks or wondering how they created that incredible visual, that's generally a bad sign. I'm pretty sure the goal is to have people thinking about how good a movie looked when they're walking to the car.

Edge of Darkness is rated R for strong, bloody violence and language. It is currently playing at the Regal Cinema 7 in Boone.

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