Edge of Darkness (2010 movie) review…

Edge of Darkness (2010 movie) review after the break…

Edge of Darkness (2010 movie) review…

Movie critics often complain of the thin, watery plots that tie multiple scenes of action scenes or sex scenes together in order for those scenes to be called a “movie.” Yet, sometimes, a film can also be too dense for it’s own good.

“Edge of Darkness” began it’s life as an English TV mini-series and has now been translated into an American movie, starring Mel Gibson as a grizzled Boston police detective who witnesses the murder of his adult daughter and begins to suspect that the fatal shotgun blast that killed her might really have been for her and not for him as originally thought.

One can’t help but think of Mel Gibson’s other similar “revenge” flick, “Payback,” when watching this film. Unlike “Payback,” though, “Edge of Darkness” is burdened with a dense conspiracy story that continually undermines Gibson’s “Bull In China Shop” intentions when he finally realizes that handcuffs just aren’t going to cut it in bringing closure to his daughter’s demise.

Characters abound in “Edge of Darkness” but often have little to do. Gibson’s daughter is barely on the screen long enough except to establish that she vomits. An English “assassin” toys with Gibson but ultimately is only useful in tying up some loose ends at the conclusion of the film. Why not Gibson himself to pull the trigger and not the assassin? Why is a US Senator involved with all of this? Was his role even necessary? Must bad guys always drive black vehicles?

Fortunately, “Edge of Darkness” doesn’t follow the English original note-for-note (The English “conspiracy” has a rather trippy and ecological bend to it that probably wouldn’t translate well into a movie, anyway) but also sadly follows it closely enough to be burdened by most of the major plot points. As a result, the entire movie feels more like a summary then a story. It’s almost as if a five-hour version of the film was made, then cut down, then scenes were added into the cut-down version so the movie would be just coherent enough for audiences to follow along.

Regarding Mel Gibson’s performance, I didn’t find his faux Boston accent distracting and the few people on Earth who have no idea that Gibson still carries around an Australian accent would be none the wiser. Yet performances in this movie aren’t the problem; It’s the conspiracy that, at times, felt so forced that one must wonder what the first draft of the movie felt like. For instance, a black car barrels out of nowhere to run down an informant late in the movie – Not a gun shot, but a drive-by that rips off Gibson’s car door in the process. Really? Why not just kill Gibson then and there with a gun shot? Or a mugging “gone bad”?

“Payback” was a simple movie about a wronged criminal wanting revenge. That movie, admittedly, had more then a few drawbacks but mechanically, the film was all about the revenge scenes. “Edge of Darkness” tries it’s best to be “Payback” but attempts to add a conspiracy story to ‘explain’ the revenge scenes without a lot of success.

If I had to re-write the script, my main concern would be to shed characters and make this story “lighter,” not in tone but in plot. If the emphasis is on showing that Older Mel can still kick butt, the plot needs to get out of it’s way. “Edge of Darkness” plays it’s cards too early, showing that there is a conspiracy and a pretty grand one at that. Have Mel’s character force to choose if his grief is causing him to see a conspiracy not there or if there really is a conspiracy; Force the audience to make a choice – Is Gibson crazy or, to paraphrase the quote, “It ain’t paranoia if it’s true”? “Edge of Darkness” wants you to know early on that Gibson is right but then shows too much of the administration of that conspiracy rather then Gibson hunting down the conspirators.

Part of the fun of a conspiracy movie is figuring out the conspiracy but it’s counter-intuitive when there’s more conspiracy then there’s movie to show. We all want “more” in life but maybe it’s true that sometimes less truly is “more.”

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