Don’t be fooled by the advertising for “Edge of Darkness.” It is not as much of a high-voltage action movie (like “Taken”) as it is leading us to believe. Instead it is predominately a constantly unraveling mystery thriller with a slight tinge of the bloody revenge movie. The tone is more relatable to “Casino Royale” than it is to “Taken,” which is understandable because the director Martin Campbell is also the one responsible for “Casino Royale” and “Goldeneye.”
Though honestly, I think I might have preferred something closer to “Taken.” I know I might receive heat for this, but I really enjoyed “Taken” because its story was organized early on, it wasn’t complicated and as a whole, the movie knew entirely what it wanted to be within the first twenty minutes or so. “Edge of Darkness” is a film in which the conflict is established quickly, but the solution is a very long process that at times can be unnecessarily complicated (sometimes even pretty slow). If you get lost during one minute, there’s a chance that you may get lost during the rest of the movie.
Thomas Craven (Mel Gibson), a Boston crime detective, begins the film by meeting his visiting daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic) at a train station. The dialogue that takes place between them in the beginning scenes show just how much of a relationship that Thomas has with his daughter. He loves her very much and is protective of her well-being, as all good parents are.
However, suspicion escalates as Emma shows constant signs of illnesses. Just before leaving the station, she is shown vomiting and appears considerably languid. While at home, her nose starts bleeding and she unexpectedly begins vomiting vigorously. Tom attempts to rush her to the hospital, but a hooded assailant right outside the house immediately guns her down and makes his escape. Breathing her final breath, Emma attempts to tell Tom something crucial that she has never told him, but dies in her father’s arms.
Investigation takes place at the Craven household and it is initially suspected that the shooter was instead attempting to kill Tom and missed, but Craven himself is skeptical of this hypothesis because he cannot think of anyone who would have any incentive to harm him. Arriving back home one night, he locates a handgun in Emma’s drawer. Now begins the huge mystery case including the daughter’s boyfriend (Shawn Roberts) whom was previously unknown to Tom, her suspicious secret profession as a researcher for the company Northmoor, the company’s equally suspicious owner Jack Bennett (Danny Huston), and a CIA agent (Ray Winstone) who is both feeding and keeping information involving the murder case from Craven.
The first half hour or so passed as sufficient entertainment for me. I really enjoyed the study of the strong, though quiet, relationship between Tom and Emma. Even after her death, Tom still mentally keeps in contact with Emma in an odd, “Lovely Bones” style of communication. Also shown are short home movie clips of Emma as a young girl, further accentuating how deep their connection traces back to. Mel Gibson gives a convincing performance of someone who has gone through hell and has little else to lose after this tragedy has occurred.
However, the problems come into play after that first thirty minutes when the mystery angle starts to come into play. Gibson’s character slowly shifts from grieving and depressed to the typical, over-the-top angry guy role. And while some people might like the mystery-thriller aspect of the movie, I found myself not nearly as interested as the plot kept getting more and more convoluted. It could be that I’m just not a fan of the mystery genre, but even I would be impressed if the material was consistently strong enough.
“Edge of Darkness” just didn’t do it for me in the long run. Even though there are a few notable performances, such as Gibson and Winstone, those aren’t nearly enough to make up for the excessively intricate plot points throughout. Although I will say that the film picks up once again in the final sequence when Craven has finally unearthed all the facts and confronts the problem head on. Still just an average experience overall, though.