Acting in his first film since 2003, Mel Gibson is a bit rusty as retiring Boston homicide detective Thomas Craven in a part corporate thriller, part old-school revenge fantasy that feels dated from the start.
A gratuitously bloody murder sets up a gauntlet of corporate espionage Craven must navigate to investigate the death of his political-activist daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic). Danny Huston delivers some enjoyable scene-chewing as corporate baddie Jack Bennett, but Ray Winstone seems to have been cast in a role cut-and-pasted from a different film.
Director Martin Campbell’s filmmaking is competent. He creates better-than-average chase scenes as well as the sudden deaths common in the revenge genre.
Despite its formulaic storyline, insincere subplots and a wobbly performance from Gibson, quick pacing works to the film's advantage.
The assassination that locks in its inciting incident feels like something picked up from Sam Peckinpah's cutting-room floor. It's a giveaway to how desperate the filmmakers are to sucker-punch the audience into submission for a story that it's better not to scrutinize too closely.
Similar to last year's State of Play, Edge of Darkness is based on a six-part 1985 British miniseries. And like State of Play, this attempt at condensing six hours of narrative into 100 minutes results in underdeveloped characters overstating their positions in scenes that beg more questions than they address. Grade: C-
Opens Jan. 29. Check out theaters and show times, see more photos from the film and get theater details here.