Monday, February 01, 2010

Edge of Darkness (**)

Edge of Darkness. 121 mins. R. Directed by Martin Campbell. Written by William Monahan and Andrew Bovell. Starring Mel Gibson, Danny Houston, Ray Winstone, Jay O. Sanders, and Denis O'Hare.

It's been almost eight years since Mel Gibson headlined a movie, and though, personal controversies aside, he's a welcome presence on screen, and I'm glad to see him back, I'm less than "taken" with this revenge thriller. We've seen this story a million times before, and done much better. Based on a 1980's British miniseries of the same name, Edge of Darkness casts Gibson as a Boston cop out to avenge the brutal murder of his only daughter. His search for her killers reveals a vast corporate conspiracy that reaches into the highest levels of federal government and blah blah blah. Like I said, there's nothing new here. All that would be forgivable though if the movie actually bothered to give us some thrills. What Gibson needed with this comeback vehicle of sorts is a fast-paced ride that satisfies its audience's bloodlust with a lot of expertly executed action scenes. In other words, he needed to do what Liam Neeson did in Taken. Instead, he's stuck in a plodding, poorly paced movie that's content just going through the paces with an occasional, startling bit of violence thrown in to jolt the audience out of its stupor. Much of the blame for that has to lie with director Martin Campbell, who's always been hit (Casino Royale) and miss (Vertical Limit). Despite Gibson's perfect casting and an intriguing performance by Ray Winstone as a shady gun-for-hire, Edge of Darkness commits the cardinal sin of any thriller: it's insufferably boring.

- John


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