Mel Gibson’s latest film takes credibility to the very edge

PUBLISHED: 15:22 04 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:44 07 September 2010

Review bv Michael Joyce Edge of Darkness (15) Director Martin Campbell Starring Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Bojana Novakovic, Shawn Roberts. 116 mins Two star rating Last year it was Russell Crowe in State of Play; this year it is Mel Gibson s turn to make of movie

Edge of Darkness (15) Director Martin Campbell Starring Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Bojana Novakovic, Shawn Roberts. 116 mins

Two star rating

Last year it was Russell Crowe in State of Play; this year it is Mel Gibson's turn to make of movie of a classic six part BBC drama serial. Edge of Darkness was something of a national sensation when it was broadcast in the mid-eighties, starting out as a straightforward conspiracy thriller but slowly unravelling into all kinds of gibbering weirdness. Or at least that's how I dimly remember it.

The movie version discards all the fancy edges. All the eco stuff has gone, though they've kept nuclear as the baddy. It's not a travesty; it's trying to be distinctive in its own way but ends up as an awkward mesh of political thriller and violent revenge thriller.

In his first major role in seven years, Gibson is Craven, a police officer who ends up investigating a vast cover up concerning a local nuclear research facility after his daughter is shot dead in his arms. Gibson makes him too much the iconic, emotionally hollowed out, figure of vengeance, but he's impressive in the more human moments.

The wayward CIA operative Darius Jedburgh, played by Joe Don Baker, was a key figure in the British original. It's a nice touch to cast Ray Winstone for the American remake but the movie can't really find any space for him and the role is now largely peripheral.

The primary problem with the film is that the movie constantly undermines the conspiracy's credibility. Faced with a script that is packed with exposition, every twenty minutes or so a very ostentatious murder or attempted murder is conjured up. Nice set pieces but aren't cover ups meant to be discreet?

Indeed the whole story is initiated by an implausibility when, Spoiler, the baddies pump both barrels of a shotgun into a girl to whom they've already administered a fatal dose of radiation. So having already very quietly murdered her, they decided to murder her again in a way bound to draw attention to themselves.

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