Ken reviews: Edge of Darkness

By Ken KwekMovies - 29 January 2010 4:30 PM | Updated 4:35 PM

Ken reviews: Edge of Darkness

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1.5 out of 5

“The way to handle the situation is to make things so convoluted, no one can keep up with the facts.”

This advice is dispensed by an English security consultant to a corrupt United States senator in the latest Mel Gibson vehicle, Edge of Darkness. The statement is not an inaccurate description of the film itself.

Gibson plays Tom Craven, a divorced Boston detective who seems to have only one friend and companion in life: his daughter, Emma.

We see Emma as a cute little girl in several home video flashbacks (she is played by an irresistible child actor named Gabrielle Popa); we see her grow into a beautiful young woman—an Ivy League graduate, no less (Bojana Novakovic); finally, we see Emma cruelly gunned down before her father’s eyes.

All this makes for fairly unoriginal but nonetheless gripping viewing. There is nothing more harrowing for a parent than the loss of a child, and Gibson is something of an old hand at playing the anguished father who falls victim to a life-shattering crime. (Remember Ransom?)

Unfortunately, Craven’s soul-crushing grief and his tragic lust for revenge is all-too-quickly and permanently swallowed up by the circuitous and conspiracy-ridden search for Emma’s killer.

It turns out that Craven’s daughter, a lowly intern at a nuclear engineering facility, was also a political activist privy to secrets that can indict powerful entrepreneurs and their cronies in the federal government.

It’s an unlikely situation, but what the heck. As he must, Craven hunts down his daughter’s killer(s), summarily despatching a slew of inconsequential conspirators along the way. By then, audiences will probably feel as deadened as their hapless hero.

Director Martin Campbell may have revived the Bond franchise with the gritty and highly-kinetic Casino Royale (2006); but he and his screenwriters fail to breathe new life into this feature adaptation of an acclaimed 1985 British TV series.

Part of the problem is the medium itself. The episodic nature of television affords more time for the imperatives of the revenge drama (character) and political thriller (plot) to be met.

But in the feature format, both these elements are compromised, as the screenwriters William Monahan (The Departed) and Andrew Bovell (Lantana) struggle to cram and condense a surfeit of information.

The result is tedium: a film that feels far longer than its actual two hours.

Ken Kwek is a playwright and screenwriter. His film credits include The Ballad of Vicki and Jake (2005), The Blue Mansion (2009) and the forthcoming Kidnapper (2010).