Sunday, 31 January 2010

Edge of Darkness - Dir. Martin Campbell

Twenty five years ago New Zealander Martin Campbell (Goldeneye, Casino Royale) directed six episodes of a Television series for the BBC, this series was the highly acclaimed British drama ‘Edge of Darkness’ which followed a father as he unravelled the various conspiracies surrounding the death of his daughter. While this week sees the release of the film adaptation of the British drama, fittingly directed again by Campbell. However, instead of Bob Peck fighting back, we have Mel Gibson in his first leading role since the extraterrestrial film ‘Signs’ was released a mere eight years ago.

Thomas Craven (Gibson) is a Boston homicide detective who is sent to the edge of darkness (so to speak) when his daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic) is shot and killed in front of him. Refusing to sit back and let his colleagues handle the ‘officer involved’ crime, Craven takes it upon himself to find out if he was the target and if not, who would want to silence his daughter and why. This journey leads Craven into the murky waters of corporate and governmental cover-ups and the lengths some capitalist money-makers will go to, to keep certain infractions out of the public sphere.

Gibson gives a typically solid performance as the grieving, empty father who will stop at nothing to find out why his daughter died and who was the perpetrator(s). He continually overshadows the rest of the supporting cast including Ray Winstone as the mysterious ‘corporate fixer’ Jedburgh. While Martin Campbell’s direction is as competent as usual, continually unafraid to linger over Gibson’s character as he is dragged into the emotional depths of the situation at hand. However despite being capably filmed and well acted, the film suffers from one serious, unequivocal problem that detracts heavily on the overall enjoyment of the film at hand, which is the fact that the narrative structure is poorly constructed during the middle segment of the film.

The original television series was spread among six fifty-minute episodes allowing plenty of time for the various themes, issues and conspiracies to be explored. However this feature adaptation instead is a mere two hours in length and during this time the audience are continually bombarded with new information, characters and events that are not fully identified or explained resulting in both confusion and a strong sense of disappointment. As ‘Edge of Darkness’ reaches the hour mark we are introduced to various characters that are involved in the conspiracy (partially, visibly or simply by connection) that are never explained, nor is there enough exploration of the potentially more important characters who are only involved for their own means, which would have led to a significantly more interesting climax.

Despite this flaw, ‘Edge of Darkness’ does succeed heavily in one aspect, it will inspire you to search for and dig out the old television series starring Bob Peck and view the issues beyond those that were touched upon in this film in further depth. However, aside from another engaging Gibson performance, the lack of explanation is a severely detrimental factor on the overall nature of the film. Instead of leaving the cinema discussing this thought-provoking, dramatic conspiracy thriller, you will most likely leave asking “who was he, and what was his purpose.”
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