“Edge of Darkness” is a crowd-pleaser much like “Taken,” in that your definition of pleasing has to involve a long list of bad-guys that need to be shot by the end. This is the kind of movie Mel Gibson used to make every other time before he went all seriously religious, verbally-attacked a (jewish?) cop and became known in certain circles as “Da Fuhrer.”
He returns here after eight years (his last acting role was “Signs”) looking flabbier and wearier. He’s not the action hero we’ve come to know, which is fine because “Darkness” is less about action (take out a car hitting a woman and people getting shot at point-blank range and there would be none here at all) and more about the drama.
And unfortunately dramatically it’s not the comeback we’d hope for from good ole Mel. He plays Craven, a veteran cop welcoming his visiting, estranged daughter (Bojana Novakovic), only before he can even say “how ya been?” she is gunned down in brutal fashion in a hit that, at first, looks to be intended for him.
Of course things are not what they seem. His findings take him to the office of Jack Bennett (Danny Huston), the head of a nuclear energy company that employed Craven’s daughter. Craven is also confronted by Jedburgh (Ray Winstone), a security consultant usually brought in to clean up messes.
Gibson turns in a good performance, angry and distraught, brought to justice but the constant dreams and flashbacks of the daughter alive are sentimental, forced, and unmoving. More gimmick to move the plot along than to feel anything for.
The more interesting role is played by Ray Winstone, whose objective in all this remains the movie’s only real mysterious part. And being that he isn’t really called upon to do much until the very end, you have a long time to try and guess what that might be.
And there lies the problem. In addition to being long, dull, and nearly action-less, it’s high on talky Q and A scenes but low on any kind of surprise. Director Martin Campbell (“Casino Royale”) can’t do much with the predictable screenplay by William Monohan and Andrew Bovell (based on some BBC series). It’s easy to tell who the villains are, who is going to get killed next, and what big bad corporation will have seedy secrets. And it feels like it takes forever to get to the final shoot-out.
The lack of emotional pull and surprises just leaves us with a lot of people getting shot, and with “Darkness” not being nearly as edgy as advertised.