In my opinion, revenge films are easy to make. Put a likable actor / actress in the lead, take his / her significant other, and then spent the rest of the film following him around as he wrecks havoc and trailing blood during his / her quest to search for the responsible parties. It is then only the matters on how creative the director and the scribers carry out the quest and eventually, the method of executions. As far as I’m concerned, for me, revenge films never fails. Yep, even “The Punisher” films.
On the surface, “Edge of Darkness” is essentially a revenge film. The trailer hides nothing on this premise (and key factors to the *entire* film). Thomas Craven (Mel Gibson), a Boston detective officer had a visit from his daughter, Emma Charlotte. She was sick and seemingly wanted to tell her father something but before she does, a man with ski masks stormed Thomas’ house and shot Emma dead.
It was thought that bullet was meant for Thomas and Emma was just a collateral damage. Even so, Thomas went to investigate and fueled by grief and the needs for revenge, he kept all his findings to himself. He quickly tangled himself into ugly truths that involves Emma’s former employer, a U.S. Senator and his lawyers, a group of environmental activists, a corrupt police officer and a security consultant whom I think, steals every scenes he was in, portrayed magnificently by Ray Winstone.
Originally a mini-serie, “Edge of Darkness” was squeezed into a 110-minute film. Understandably, some details are bound to be omitted and the transition between plot wasn’t even (sometime, the plot devices were drove and relies heavily on coincidences). Even so, I liked Martin Campbell’s direction. He chooses to pace it rather slowly, deliberately, presenting them like a slow methodological mystery rather than a high-octane full blown thriller though when he needs to be tough, Campbell didn’t had an aversion to opt for a smoother and less gory details. Rough translation to most: slow, sleep inducing, and boring, but for me, it was: unhurried, great paced, and rewarding.
Some would undoubtedly say that the film isn’t what they had expected and even probably fell asleep during one. I don’t blame them. Campbell didn’t try to hide anything in the film. He laid everything bare right since the first beginning. Thus, if one expected to see a surprising twist somewhere in the story, they’ll be sorely disappointed but I think it’s just a matter of perspective. Prior the film, I’ve seen the trailers and got *everything* I need to know right away. Therefore, when I sat there, I just wanted to be entertained, soaked in the direction visuals and pace, and appreciate Mel and Ray’s banters which I think were the highest point in the film and I had enjoyed immensely. I didn’t try to guess or keeping myself ahead of the plot because I know it’s futile and it’s going to ruin my experience as evident by others who tried to do so and failed to appreciate its true value. After all, essentially, this was just a revenge film and in my book, revenge films rarely (if ever) fails.
Mel Gibson is back, portraying a gaunt father figure, he often (physically) dwarfed by his surroundings (a quote from another critic, he is David in “David and Goliath”) though I’d prefer he going back behind the camera rather than at the front. Ray Winstone, wow, I mean, you cannot not love him in this film. A sympathetic adversary? A gangster with a heart of gold? A wild card at the table? It’s a pleasure to see him every time he was on screen.
My rating: *** / **** My advice, see the trailer. If you already know everything you need to know from the trailer, and still wanted to see more (like I did), you won’t be disappointed. Otherwise, go snuggle with your loved one instead. Anyway, most of this film fed its information and background drop in subtle hints or indirect scenes and conclusions sometime need to be drawn by the audience themselves. This, I think, also what separates those who enjoy the film and those who fell asleep during one. In short word: Not for everyone.
P.S.: I had given this film a half rating more during my first tweet, initial response on the film but as I wrote this review, It came to me that we’re only in January, and I need to adjust my rating system else I would have too many three and a half ratings along the way. After all, this film is currently the first really good film in 2010.