Mel Gibson’s return to the screen seem to go as quickly as it arrived with Edge of Darkness making little noise in the cinema during its late January theatrical run. With films still fighting off Avatar for the top spot, Edge of Darkness proved no match and when paired with the weak critical response the film left theaters altogether after ten short weeks. With a budget of $80 million and a worldwide intake of less than that, Darkness proved to be a bit of a dud for the studio as well as Gibson, although home video and rental sales will no doubt make the remainder of the films budget back.
The bullet that killed his daughter was meant for Boston cop Thomas Craven. That’s what police brass and Craven himself think, but that’s not what the investigation finds. Clue after clue and witness after witness, the search leads him into a shadowy realm where money and political intrigue intersect. If Craven wasn’t a target before, he – and anyone linked to his inquiry – now is. Mel Gibson stars in his first screen lead in eight years, making Craven’s grief palpable and his quest for payback stone-cold and relentless. Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) directs from a screenplay co-written by The Departed’s William Monahan. Gibson is back, taking us to the edge…and into the sinister darkness.
Gibson made quite a career off of the “Mel gets angry and kills people” set of films and for good reason—he was absolutely awesome in them. Truth be told Edge of Darkness really is just more of that same type of genre but they complicated it up with a political and company conspiracy/cover-up angle that just didn’t feel right. You knew something was awry and that it wasn’t going to be your typical revenge flick from the start, but you really only feel Mel Gibson’s presence in a few scenes…which is pretty disastrous for a two-hour movie that should be relentlessly pounding out action scene after action scene.
I wouldn’t even attribute the failure of the film to Gibson either; I mean granted he was pretty much all over the tabloids prior to this film coming out so maybe the public was sick of him, but overall he was just about the only thing worth watching this film for. Everyone else were either B-level actors or people you’ve never heard of so Gibson was the only real pull here; although it does confuse me as to how this film cost $80 million to make when it is so relatively simple in composure. There were few big action sequences and what ones there were, were almost entirely secluded.
The film wasn’t a total bust, however; it was mildly entertaining in a popcorn flick kind of way, but it was a little bit too serious to really enjoy as a simple action flick. It tried to smarten itself up with a tale of corporate greed mixed in with the revenge tale, but I quite frankly found it kind of tacked on and old hat. I guess I wanted something more akin to Ransom from this movie…but in the end I guess I should’ve just opted to re-watch Ransom instead. I will say that the mansion shoot-out at the end of the movie was quite awesome though—the way Gibson just carelessly fired the gun and still hit everyone point blank was pretty damn awesome.
Sadly Edge of Darkness isn’t worth more than a Rental, but it still is a fairly fun time. Gibson is entertaining and while the rest of the cast is forgettable, there are a few interesting characters tossed in as well to essentially just make Gibson look more awesome (which works flawlessly). The film is simply too uneven, however, as it jumps between a serious drama and a mindless action flick a little too effortlessly. But it did mix in some cool psychological elements of the stories main radiation exposure illness angle for Gibson’s character to play off of, so that was a nice trick. In the end the film could’ve been handled a lot smarter than it ultimately was but it’s still a decent ride nonetheless.
Warner brings Edge of Darkness to Blu-ray in a standard Elite Blu-ray case. Inside is the usual pairing of discs (one Blu-ray, one DVD/Digital Copy combo) and a sadly rather lackluster selection of extras. Still, it’s a decent enough package considering you’ll likely be only watching the film once or twice anyway (or three times if you watch all three copies of it that they provide).
Video is an absolutely superb VC-1 encoded transfer that really is a fine example of what Blu-ray can do over the DVD format (and with the included DVD copy it’s an easy comparison to make too). The majority of the film is cloaked in darkness, but it’s surprisingly in these scenes that you see the most detail. Rain slicked streets and bead covered cars are just oozing with detail and close-ups reveal just how wrinkled Gibson’s face has become (along with his clothes in some instances). It’s a really well done transfer and one that’s free from any compression artifacts or any kind of banding.
Audio is a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track and…well, it’s pretty loud. At least it’s loud when there’s action on screen, as you’ll likely have a goofy grin on your face as the surrounds and LFE light up during the car sequences (the one with the flipping Sebring was particularly satisfying…and not just because I hate those cars) or the scenes involving bullets being fired. Sadly the film isn’t just a solid block of this so there’s quite a bit of center channel usage to pump out the films copious amounts of dialogue (though Gibson gets in a few guttural growls here and there so the LFE may kick in for that too).
Past and Present of Edge of Darkness
Scoring the Film
Revisiting the Edge of Darkness Mini-series
Edge of Your Seat
Making a Ghost Character Real
Adapting the Edge of Darkness Mini-series
Director Profile Martin Campbell
Boston as a Character
Craven’s War of Attrition
All total that’s under forty minutes of extras to check out—kind of disappointing, but not entirely surprising. The “focus points” are really quick little bursts of information (in standard definition to boot) and the deleted scenes, while in high definition, really do nothing to aid your enjoyment of the film as they all feel rather superfluous (good thing they were deleted I guess).
Overall a release that’s worth a Rental as the A/V specs are really quite enjoyable.
Edge of Darkness is now available on Blu-ray.