Originally a 1985 BBC miniseries, “Edge of Darkness” follows Boston detective Thomas Craven (Mr. Gibson) as he unravels the mystery of why his beloved daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic) was blown away by a masked gunman right before his eyes. The original assumption is that the shotgun blast was meant for Thomas, but when he discovers a loaded handgun among his daughter’s possessions, the revenge wheels in his head start cranking. And there is only one way to make them stop.
Craven tracks down his daughter’s terrified boyfriend, who knows what she was up to but refuses to elaborate without forceful prodding. Suspicions are further aroused when he meets with Jack Bennett (Danny Huston), the smarmy head of a defense contractor charged with managing government stockpiles of nuclear material where Emma worked as an intern. Mysterious henchmen in a black SUV are soon on his tail. A morally ambiguous “cleaner” named Jedburgh (the excellent Ray Winstone) hints that Emma’s death was a matter of national security and advises Craven to seek a resolution outside the normal legal channels.
In fairness to Mr. Gibson, there is nothing obviously wrong with his per-
formance. Since his days as Mad Max, he has always been able to reliably deliver righteous vengeance. Perhaps it makes sense that he would choose a boilerplate revenge story to end such a long hiatus
marked by a very public fall from grace. Yet, after all these years, his comfort zone comes off as tired – and not because time has deepened the wrinkles on his face.
In terms of suspense, “Edge of Darkness” offers little unpredictability. The bad guys – Bennett, an unscrupulous senator (played by Damian Young, who bears a striking resemblance to Dudley Do Right), and a black-suited government official – are such archetypes that little detail is needed to justify their demise. Instead, director Martin Campbell, who also directed the original BBC miniseries, is content to let Mr. Gibson’s emotional investment drive the film. To help his star along, Mr. Martin brings Emma back with voice-overs offering ghostly encouragement from the grave – “Don’t cry, Dad” – and with clips of her in home videos as an innocent child playing at the beach with her daddy. Cue the eye-rolling. Craven loves his daughter, and in Mr. Martin’s view, that’s far more important than any sort of conspiracy about radical activists attempting to expose a profit-hungry defense contractor and the shady U.S. government for what they really are.
At one point in “Edge of Darkness,” Mr. Gibson, armed with a stern glare, says, “I’m the guy with nothing to lose and who doesn’t give a sh*t.” One wonders if he employed The Method when delivering that line.
Run time: 1hr 56min. Rated R for graphic violence and language.