Boston Police detective Thomas Craven anxiously awaits the arrival of his daughter, Emma, that he hasn’t seen in awhile. He worries when she suddenly turns ill and rushes her out of the house for the hospital when she is hit by a shotgun blast from a masked gunman and dies in his arms. It’s an extreme opening of the story, and anyone with a child will feel like your heart is ripped out.
The police force rallies around the tragedy of one of their own. Craven manages to stay on the case despite his bosses recommendations and obvious conflict of interest. They believe at first that the shooter was going after Craven, but he finds a gun in Emma’s belongings. This leads him to question her friends, who are all nervous and paranoid about discussing what Emma was doing the past few weeks. Craven’s guilt and grief drives him to discover his daughter that he dearly loved but didn’t really know. Emma (Bojana Novakovic), with a master in science from MIT, was a research assistant at Northmoor which is a major government contractor in Massachusetts. The smarmy CEO of the corporation played by Danny Huston offers consolations but refuses to discuss her work at Northmoor due to confidentiality agreements that Emma had signed. If this didn’t set off Craven’s detective radar, then a mysterious meeting with shadowy operative Darius Jedburgh (Ray Winstone) would. He tries to get Craven to drop the case, which definitely makes him more determined.
Edge of Darkness, taken from a 1985 BBC television program, is directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale and some the original BBC episodes of Edge of Darkness) and updated by screenwriters William Monahan (The Departed) and Andrew Bovell. This is a welcome return for Mel Gibson to the big screen. Gibson’s face shows the history of a man like his character Craven, who has seen the ups and downs of life. His craggy visage shows that he has not indulged in the Hollywood nip and tuck remedy so used by aging thespians. Craven’s pain of losing his child is palatable, tears brimming in eyes and refusing to fall, while trying to maintain his investigative skills in finding the shooter and the reason why Emma was killed.
There’s big business, political shenanigans, and a growing body count. Some of the plot is a bit convoluted and confusing. Especially when trying to decipher Gibson’s bad Boston accent. His voice took on a nasal quality with marbles rolling around in his mouth. The conspiracy involving corporate and government hi-jinks are not as interesting as Craven’s struggle and his eventual resolution to expose them. No one kicks butt with such satisfaction as Gibson does with his nothing to lose characters like in Mad Max, Lethal Weapon, and even Braveheart. He doesn’t display the usual mugging that is supposed to be angst as he’s done in the past. There is a new quality of stillness which he infuses in his character that shows a maturity in Gibson’s portrayal. A little grayer and a little heavier, he still manages to capture the heart of the man - slightly unhinged and unraveling at the edge of darkness. (Review by Reesa Cruz Hawkins of Dallas Movie Screenings)