BUY FROM AMAZON: CLICK HERE!
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes
• Deleted Scenes
• DVD Copy
• Digital Copy
Mel Gibson is mad that his daughter died. You’ll never drink milk again.
Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston and Bojana Novakovic
Edge of Darkness proves that you can’t take large material and adapt it into something smaller. Martin Campbell handled the original BBC mini-series in 1985 and the original tale worked well. Giving it an American update and a glossy 2010 finish only served to polish up a pile of nonsense. This isn’t another case of Anglophile snobbery towards its American off-shoots. What you’re seeing with this flick is another example of the studio system telling creative talents to piss off. The obvious lack of regard to any sense of narrative structure only serves to prove that none of the WB execs cared about the original BBC mini-series.
Everyone wants to be Alan J. Pakula and no one wants to be Richard Donner anymore. Mel Gibson might’ve started off in films like Mrs. Soffel, The River and The Year of Living Dangerously; but that’s not where he found his groove. Gibson fares better in the average melodrama or action flick. It’s not a slight on his acting range, but some people don’t have what it takes to be a dramatic force. Well, what Gibson doesn’t understand always allow for some enjoyment for the masses.
The film really gets going when two stray shotgun blasts kill Craven’s daughter and starts our hero’s quest to find answers. Unfortunately, you’re watching a rather half-assed political drama and answers are never quite clear. Mixing together conspiracy with vague characterization allows multiple bodies to appear before Gibson and his pistol. Earlier that day, Mel Gibson’s character Craven picked up his daughter and hit the town. She starts vomiting and being secretive, while her dad just wants in her life. Post drive-by, Gibson does his fatherly duties of snooping through his dead little girl’s junk.
Ray Winstone almost becomes a Magic Pixie Brit when pops into play like Gordon Jump’s ghost in some terrible episode of Growing Pains. Appearing on a picnic table, as Gibson gets rid of his daughter’s tainted clothes…he drops knowledge on the grieving father. It’s not really knowledge, so much as the bare bits of information needed to move this tired story further down the tracks. When Winstone wasn’t available to shoot, various other character actors are trotted out to push Gibson to the next location. The only memorable point is when Gibson finally makes his appointment with Danny Huston. Huston seems to still think he’s in The Constant Gardener, as every line coming out of his mouth could nearly sync up with that other movie.
Edge of Darkness could’ve been amazing if Campbell and his team learned to streamline the material into something that limelighted Gibson. I know what I’m saying and I’m not a big fan of actor pandering. But, some guys and gals only excel in a limited range. John Wayne won a pity Oscar for playing the exact same roles for decades. Sure, they had to cut his lung out and he had to hobble around a Western set while slowly dying. Nobody’s asking Mel Gibson to do that. They just want to see the directorial focus he exhibits to show up in his acting. I guess that might asking for much from a comeback picture.
The problem with Edge of Darkness is that when you finish the film, you’re left wondering what the hell you just saw. When you factor in the gutting of the source material, the lack of focus from Gibson and the general malaise of the production…you don’t have a lot of reason to watch the movie. After taking all of that into consideration, you’re left at a weird place. Why does this film exist? The simple answer was that it was enough of a big-screen mental push to get the average viewer into a theater to see Gibson return to the acting game. When faced with a film like this or The Beaver, you can see why Warner Brothers went after the easy money.
There’s something mechanical to Gibson’s acting over the last fifteen years. I thought that taking time away from the silver screen would’ve allowed Gibson to develop his craft. The only thing that American cinema seemed to receive was yet another high-grossing torture flick. As time marches on and fans look back at this flick, how will it be remembered? A weird attempt at turning a radiation laced political thriller into an action film? How often do you find yourself wistfully looking back at Bird on a Wire? You don’t because it was a terrible film made without any regard to overall quality. It seems like there’s a lesson to be learned here.
Edge of Darkness is a pile of missed opportunities. Gutting nearly six hours of material, in order to find a mainstream friendly two hours of mediocre action mystery doesn’t do anyone any favors. Gibson didn’t make his nut doing films like this. Gibson made America love him by butchering freaks, helping people off exploding toilets and by telling the world about the evils of Gary Busey, Patrick Stewart and Gary Sinise. You can’t give a fuck about an aging action star, unless they embrace impending senility with the panache of Charles Bronson. That’s why I ask Mr. Gibson to pick up that metaphorical rocket launcher and blasts the scripts that are a mere four feet away from him.
I know that a lot of readers/Americans/humans have had a hard time supporting Mel Gibson in light of recent events. But, we need rough bastards in our cinema. Edge of Darkness isn’t a film for rough bastards and it’s not something that needed to be a film. Long-form narrative belongs to the realm of television and the small screen has been doing it incredibly well for the last 6 years. While I’m not going to totally absolve Gibson from the blame for this film, I do have this to say. An actor’s personal choices should not be factored into your appreciation of his artistic output. If their films suck shit, blame them as an actor. But, if they freak out and try to murder their live-in girlfriends, you can sit back and wait for the inevitable biopic.
encoded transfer is very warm and breaks down nicely in the various exterior and interior shots. The sad thing is that High-Definition hasn’t been kind to Mel Gibson’s aging face. There are points in the film that he looks like James Garner’s surly younger brother. While that might suck for Mr. Gibson, the cinematography on this dark flick shines through even in the various nightly exteriors. There’s no shimmer or digital noise coming off the plot-centric lake. The real surprise is the DTS-HD master audio track that makes the various shoot-outs come to life.
follows this weird pattern for Warner Brothers releases since
they realized that they could drive DVD sales to the next-gen by force.
Sure, you could buy just the DVD and get some basic featurettes. Those featurettes are broken down into showy promo pushes to showcase the adapted material and Gibson’s return to cinematic badass. But, the adaptation efforts were futile and Gibson lacks the focus of his earlier roles. There’s a digital copy and DVD copy included in the mix which is nice. However, I wish that WB could learn to do something productive with their BD-Live materials.