Wednesday 10 February 2010

Review: Edge of Darkness

Year: 2010
Director: Martin Campbell
Screenplay: William Monahan, Andrew Bovell
Starring: Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston

Plot Synopsis is here

It seems that Hollywood in all its plundering, are not only stealing books, far Eastern cinema, European Cinema et all...It's also coming to Blightly and nabbing BBC mini-series! State of Play (based on a 2003 Drama) made the rounds last year and now Edge of Darkness has come to town. This little deity is a film adaptation of a 1985 BBC mini-series which to this day is considered a highly influential piece of work. This Hollywood version features; a Mel Gibson whose been off screen since Signs, An Ex-Bond Director (Bronson and Craig-Era) and a trailer so bad it betrays the actual good work that this thriller brings to the table.

I mention the trailer because not only is it bad, it cheapens what the film is about. The trailer gives the impression of a dull revenge film retread, when in reality what we get is a solid thriller which deals with aspects of grief and dodgy politics with just as much assurance as its moments of action. In fact I was quite surprised one the denseness of the films plot which has made sure that it's not only solid entertainment, but also given the slight air of relevance.

Untrustworthy politicians? Very commonplace, but considering how much of the western world feels about where their countries are going at the moment (myself included) there's something about the placement of the everyman cop and his plight to reveal the secret behind his daughters death that stuck a cord with me, be it American redo or not.

I feel the reason behind this is that because William Monahan (The Departed) with his taut script, Gibson's traumatized portrayal of a grieving father and Campbell's well known experience in directing genre pieces, manage to squeeze out enough intrigue and sympathy out of the character and his situation for me to care. Let's not lie now, it's nothing new and it has it's silly moments including two scenes with Fox news that feel fake and one of said scenes feeling like the climax of Watchmen (take that as you will), but as a February release I was exceedingly surprised by how tightly crafted the film is. In a lesser feature the plot strands could have easily fallen apart but this is handled with equally as much care as anything else out there.

The aforementioned Gibson has come back to a role that is bread and butter to an actor like himself. It's Riggs-lite but still carries that charisma, and there's nothing too unbelievable about the characters actions. Ray Winstone brings gravitas to a part that can be quite thankless (although his character could bring more to the table), while Danny Huston is making a name for himself in the role of person-in-suit-that-can't-be-trusted. Typecast it may be but it's understandable when he's just so good at it (See Children of men, 30 Days of Night, Ivan's xtc).

While you shouldn't have biases watching films when you review them, it's hard not to when you see a trailer as generic as Edge of Darkness'. The film itself is also pretty standard in the most basic terms but has enough good chemistry to keep my entertainment levels up. It may not reach the dizzying heights of the genre but it's high enough not to see the depths.

Hear me rave about this movie on The Cinematic Dramatic Podcast at Geek Planet Online