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EDGE OF DARKNESS

SYNOPSIS:
Just as Boston homicide detective Thomas Craven (Mel Gibson) welcomes the return of his estranged daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic), she is shot dead in his arms outside their home by mysterious gunmen. Craven sets out to find her assassins but in the process he stumbles into a web of intrigue that reveals her secret life amidst a high powered conspiracy and cover up. The event triggers a chain reaction that attracts the attention of the mysterious Jedburgh (Ray Winstone) whose speciality is cleaning up security problems at a high level. Craven's search for answers leads him to Jack Bennett (Danny Huston), the head of a secretive manufacturing concern with a Government weapons contract that is not all it appears.

Review by Louise Keller:
After eight years it's good to see Mel Gibson back on screen and the role of the by-the-book cop and bereaved father looking for revenge is tailor made for him. It's a demanding role and Gibson has the gravitas and charisma to hold our attention as we venture with him to the edge. Corruption in high places, politics and emotional chaos form the baggage of this gripping thriller, which is always engrossing even though I found the complexity of relevance of the many characters through the maze of plot points sometimes confusing.

I'm the guy with nothing to lose who doesn't give a sh*t, says Gibson's Craven, the cop with integrity who idolises his trainee nuclear engineer daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic, excellent). The subject matter is so complex, delicately balancing issues of national security, corporate greed and morality that even heavyweight screenwriters William Monaghan (Body of Lies) and Australia's Andrew Bovell (Lantana, Blessed) are faced with a considerable challenge. Perhaps they tried to incorporate too many elements from the British mini series on which the film is based. However, there is much about the film that I really liked, including the way the story finds an appropriate and morally sound ending. Director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) embraces every little detail with such tenacity that we are assured of an intense ride, but it is one that requires avid concentration.

Everything is illegal in Massachusetts, says Ray Winstone's powerful, somewhat dubious government operative who connects A to B as he juggles theories without facts. Winstone always delivers and his Jedburgh is a soulful character with surprising personal regrets, but I found some of the dialogue hard to decipher. The relationship between Craven and his daughter is well established and Novakovic makes her presence felt throughout the film, even though her screen time is limited. Danny Huston has good presence as Jack Bennett, the high-powered executive whose decisions and moral compass are guided by money alone. There are many other characters that play a part in Craven's journey and we have complete understanding as he crosses the moral highway, when he takes the law into his own hands. The film is also enjoyable in hindsight, when the richness of the many elements can be analysed.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The Australian connection - apart from Mel Gibson who stars as Tommy Craven and is the head of the Icon film group - includes co-writer Andrew Bovell (of Lantana fame) and Bojana Novakovic, who began her acting life in Australia. These talents, along with New Zealander Martin Campbell (of Casino Royale fame) are all visible in this above average thriller about a young woman caught up in a nasty and secret Government conspiracy, details of which I won't reveal to avoid spoiling it for you - and you should take this is a recommendation to see it. Not only does the film give audiences a satisfyingly tense and thrilling movie experience, it has something to say. No, I'm not talking about the specifics of the story (which trades in paranoia about American military) but about the underlying theme of moral corruption at official levels.

The screenplay gives us the passenger seat in a fast ride down the rocky road of corporate and Government collusion leading to secretive and deadly action. Mel Gibson is surprisingly vulnerable as the tough but caring (and ageing) hero, whose daughter comes back into his life at a crucial moment in hers. Novakovic is terrific as Emma, appealing and feisty; Ray Winstone pulls yet another threatening character out of his acting bag, this time in minimalist mode, chillingly focused. He is given plenty of screen time in close up to help establish his character as a tangible force.

Danny Huston is also a powerful presence as the head of Northfarm, whose contract with the Government has a secret layer. Martin Campbell's firm grasp of the story's arc and the focus on characters makes the film feel like a full three course meal, with a great mix of spaces and pace; it's not helter skelter, hand held action scenes, but good old fashioned dramatic tension, fashioned by good writing and strong performances.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

EDGE OF DARKNESS (MA15+)
(US, 2009)

CAST: Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Bojana Novakovic, Shawn Roberts, David Aaron Baker, Jay O. Sanders, Denis O'Hare, Damian Young, Caterina Scorsone

PRODUCER: Tim Headington, Graham King, Michael Wearing

DIRECTOR: Martin Campbell

SCRIPT: William Monahan, Andrew Bovell (original TV series by Troy Kennedy Martin)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Phil Meheux

EDITOR: Stuart Baird

MUSIC: Howard Shore

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Thomas E. Sanders

RUNNING TIME: 116 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 4, 2010







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