Ever since he broke through with the Mad Max movies Mel Gibson has been a reliable name above many good movies, mostly action oriented ones. But ever since the so-so Signs he disappeared from in front of the camera an reappeared behind it directing the religious torture-porn The Passion Of The Christ and the Maya torture-porn Apocalypto. That and appearing in tabloids due to his drunken misbehavior resulting in antisemitic rants. But now Mel is back in a role suited form him. A father searching for the killer(s) of his daughter in a surprisingly low-key performance.
At first it seems the killer meant to aim for Mel Gibson’s Thomas Craven, a homicide detective, but people familiar with certain Hollywood cliches quickly realize that his daughter was the target, and so does Thomas Craven himself too. The girl coming home not having seen her father for a while, the ’sudden’ nosebleeds and blood-coughs. This is the Hollywood way of saying: terminally ill and will die soon.
Thomas starts to investigate his daughter’s whereabouts from before she was killed eventually leading to her old job at a nuclear facility. I’m sure that at the time you hear that where she works and what condition she was in you’ll immediately connect the dots.
In any other movie with such a theme the actor would go after the people responsible for this with some heavy ammo, as Mel did too in some of his earlier work. And while it does seem to go that way for a moment the movie is mostly busy with the unraveling of the whats and whys of the murder. Instead of simply gunning everybody down there is a quest to get the truth to the light which makes this a smarter revenge movie than most of them.
Gibson gives a low-key performance of a father who experienced a great loss and with the position to do something about it himself. It’s a solid performance but none that he will be remembered by. For that the script is too focused on the murder case rather than the loss of a child or giving Mel some scenery to chew. Who does give a memorable performance is Ray Winstone who’s a company clean-up guy or something like that. He’s hinted to be a hit-man, but visits Thomas on multiple occasions and clearly knows more about the case. There seems to be a cat and mouse game going on but we’re just never sure.
I liked how the movie actually acknowledges that companies don’t simply can go around killing people without drawing attention. In most movies dealing with such a theme the company is an abstract evil entity not bound to rules that apply to you and me. And even though the company in this movie buys politicians as they all do, it never feels as if they have unlimited power which is refreshing for a change.
Edge Of Darkness is a solid movie, but more low-key than one would have expected from a movie that is described as a Mel Gibson revenge movie.