Mel Goes Nuclear
Now for those who decide to watch "Edge of Darkness" because they enjoyed the BBC series on which it is based will probably walk away disappointed, well lets be honest you take a series which was 6 episodes and over 5 hours long and cram into 2 hours and something has to give. But the irony is that those who watch "Edge of Darkness" without seeing the series are still going to be disappointed because it is messy, not just from a story point of view but the whole production making it a chore to follow. Throw in Mel Gibson's attempt at a Boston accent which unfortunately makes it even harder to follow as he often speaks in almost a whisper and what should have been a tense action, thriller ends up nothing of the sorts.
Having just picked up his daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic) from the station and taken her home, Boston detective Thomas Craven (Mel Gibson - Signs) finds his world shattered when Emma is murdered on his doorstep in front of his own eyes. With the police initially suspecting Thomas to be the target he starts snooping and soon uncovers the fact that Emma was involved with some activists and she was the target. And not just that because his prying doesn't go unnoticed and is not welcome by those who silenced his daughter.
In fairness "Edge of Darkness" has some big impact scenes, brilliantly crafted shocks which come from the unexpected and as such it starts quite well. The entire opening which sees Thomas pick up Emma from the train station through to her sudden death on his door step is mysterious and full of little impact moments especially the death scene which catches you unawares. There are further great scenes which catch you unawares and a hit and run incident most certainly wakes you from your slumber as you struggle to follow what is going on.
Now that is sort of ironic because "Edge of Darkness" is not really complex as it revolves around Thomas discovering that Emma was in over her head with some activists and so investigates what is going on and who is behind her killing. This leads to him meeting her boss at a Nuclear Weapon's plant, friends who seem terrified, a few shady men who follow him as well as Darius Jedburgh who always seems one step ahead of Thomas, feeding him info in a controlled manner. And to be honest for most of the movie we end up one step ahead as you can guess what is coming, certain twists and moments of action. In fact the only real surprises come from those sudden shocks, the moments of horror which catch you off guard.
But being predictable isn't really a big issue but being messy is. Now the main issue is that so much is intelligible with Mel Gibson doing a Boston accent and often speaking in such a hushed tone you cannot make him out and then Ray Winstone is no better as the equally whispering Brit. Oh whispering may make it mysterious but it makes it nigh on impossible to follow what is being said. It also doesn't help that it seems to flit all over the place, introducing characters then forgetting them for ages before reintroducing them for a single scene. Throw in the fact that Thomas is having visions of Emma as a child and "Edge of Darkness" and it ends up feeling like it is trying too hard to create a dark mysterious atmosphere which in turn jars with the moments of action.
Now it is a shame that Mel Gibson's attempt at a Boston accent doesn't work, in fact at times it sounds almost like he is trying to imitate Peter Falk, because Gibson does deliver a good performance. There is a silent revenge which Gibson taps into brilliantly making Thomas Craven dangerous especially as he is dealing with his grief over Emma's death. But Gibson is not alone and all the cast which includes Danny Huston and Ray Winstone deliver top performances delivering interesting characters even if it at times hard to make out what they are saying.
What this all boils down to is that "Edge of Darkness" ends up a disappointment because it is so hard to follow that it becomes a chore. It spoils what could have been a really tense action thriller because there are moments where it is spectacular but unfortunately is undone by all the mess which dominates it.