Mel Gibson on “The Edge of Darkness”

Michael Collins

(Also published at The Agonist)

Edge of Darkness is worth seeing for Gibson’s performance and the eerily realistic and supremely vile basis of the plot. Unfortunately, the film narrative is like the  old “Highway Patrol” series with Broderick Crawford, linear and  mundane.

It seems Gibson is destined for themes concerning death. Hero of democracy, William Wallace, was drawn and quartered at the end of Braveheart. Apocalypto showed the extraordinary efforts that a father would take to protect his wife and child in the midst of relentless violence.

In Edge, Gibson conveys the most feared and tragic form of mourning – the parental loss of a child. There are few events more tragic and heart rending. The loss of a child can end a parent’s life, both figuratively and literally.

The story begins as Boston Detective Ronald Craven (Gibson) welcomes home his daughter Emma.  She’s visiting on break from her internship at stealth defense giant NorthMore. Father and daughter are clearly fond of each other but we hardly get to know Emma. After she becomes violently ill, Craven takes her out the front door on the way to the hospital.  She’s shot on the front porch. Craven is unharmed physically but endures the excruciating tragedy of helplessly having his daughter collapse, dying in his arms.

There’s a brief period when Emma’s death is attributed to Craven’s career of putting away Boston bad guys. That doesn’t last long. One of the more intriguing tin foil characters of modern time, Jedburgh, shows up to tell Gibson that Emma was the real target due to her work at NorthMore.

At that point, things take off and the pace quickens. NorthMore, located in Northhampton, Massachusetts, is a black ops research site funded by CIA and run by the odious Richard Bennett, played to the tee by Danny Huston. Craven’s first encounter with CEO Bennett defines  the plot’s tension. Saying anymore risks ruining the truly outrageous yet believable suggestion behind NorthMore’s big plans and Emma’s death.

Gibson’s performance is first rate. He conveys the intensity of the loss and subsequent trauma in a believable way. He’s enraged, activated, and confused. Without a lot of help from the screenplay, he conveys the various elements of trauma in a way that tracks with real world reactions.

Damian Young’s portrayal of the utterly corrupt and odious Senator Jim Pine (R-MA) is one for the record books. Even if you don’t see the theatrical release, it is well worth a DVD rental to see this archetypal portrayal of all that is wrong with the country. And, then we have Jedburgh, a sole proprietor who for some mysterious reason guides  the CIA as it  implement hits and other nightmares executed in the name of national security. Ray Winstone delivers as this architect of state based murder and mayhem, not yet suggested in recent conspiracy theory literature.

With a different director and script worthy of the plot, this would have been a triumphal return for Gibson. As it stands, it’s worth seeing due to Gibson and the strong  supporting cast mentioned paired with the suggestion of just what lengths some of the rulers will go to perpetuate their very profitable war on a word.

END

This article may be reproduced in whole or part with attribution of authorship and a link to this article.

Official web site for Edge of Darkness

Plot spoiler: If you can’t wait to know the real world basis of the plot (but not the particular action in this film) see this congressional testimony from this analysis.

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