Edge of Darkness

Mel Gibson's first star turn since 2002 is well suited and finds him in fine form.

Thomas Craven - Mel Gibson Darius Jedburgh - Ray Winstone Jack Bennett - Danny Huston Emma Craven - Bojana Novakovic Burnham - Shawn Roberts Millroy - David Aaron Baker Whitehouse - Jay O. Sanders Moore - Denis O'Hare

The backstory might be the most interesting part of “Edge of Darkness,” and no, that doesn’t refer to star Mel Gibson’s somewhat checkered history. “Casino Royale” and “Mask of Zorro” helmsman Martin Campbell remakes a BAFTA award-bejeweled six-hour BBC miniseries he directed 25 years ago. Yet as with the recent “State of Play,” the miniseries-to-movie transfor standing, relatively limited action should also dampen box office prospects.

Given his association with revenge plots both as a director and an actor, Gibson’s first star turn since “Signs” and “We Were Soldiers” in 2002 is well suited and finds him in fine form. He’s Thomas Craven, a tough Boston cop, who sees his only daughter, Emma (Bojana Novakovic), gunned down in front of him early on.

At first, the assumption is that some enemy of Craven’s must be responsible. Yet Emma’s fidgety demeanor and bouts of nausea soon point to another, more insidious culprit and a dense web of corruption — one that involves the major government-connected corporation for which she worked, headed by the imperious Jack Bennett (Danny Huston) from a sprawling hillside facility.

Craven’s search for answers also brings him into contact with a shadowy fixer named Jedburgh, wryly played by Ray Winstone, who seems content to let the cop pursue his mission so long as it doesn’t interfere with his own. Haunted by visions of his daughter, Craven assures him, “I’m not gonna arrest anyone,” but that doesn’t mean there won’t be considerable collateral damage as he begins overturning rocks.

Writers William Monahan (“The Departed”) and Andrew Bovell have done their best to update the Thatcher-era politics of the original, but they’re hampered by the glut of similarly themed fare conceived during the intervening quarter-century. They also devote considerable time to conveying Craven’s psychological torment, which resonates emotionally but frankly bogs down amid the clue-sifting and revenge-seeking aspects of the plot. In terms of consistent visceral thrills, “Taken” this isn’t — despite Campbell’s demonstrable flair for shooting action.

Darkness” is better served by its cast — with Winstone’s world-weary, conflicted character especially intriguing; it’s too bad there isn’t time for more of him. Then again, that’s true of other supporting players as well, whose motivations — including Emma’s — would surely benefit from more detail. (One amusing footnote: A senator in the movie is identified as a Republican from Massachusetts, which might have sounded laughable were it not for the unexpected results in the recent election there.)

Campbell’s topnotch production team yields predictably polished results, but the director’s decision to revisit the late Troy Kennedy Martin’s teleplay, finally, feels lacking. And while this is hardly the only mid-’80s artifact being reanimated a generation later — from the upcoming “The A-Team” to ABC’s “V” revival — “Darkness” returns with only its outlines intact, while lacking much of its edge.

Edge of Darkness


Production: A Warner Bros. (in U.S.) release presented in association with GK Films of a GK Films (U.S.)/BBC Films (U.K.)/Icon Prods. (U.S.) production. Produced by Graham King, Tim Headington, Michael Wearing. Executive producers, Dan Rissner, David M. Thompson, Suzanne Warren, Gail Lyon, E. Bennett Walsh. Co-executive producer, Jamie Laurenson. Co-producers, Lucienne Papon, Kwame L. Parker. Directed by Martin Campbell. Screenplay, William Monahan, Andrew Bovell, based on the television series written by Troy Kennedy Martin.

Crew: Camera (Technicolor, Panavision widescreen), Phil Meheux; editor, Stuart Baird; music, Howard Shore; production designer, Tom Sanders; supervising art director, Gregory A. Berry; art director, Suzan Wexler; set decorator, Jay Hart; costume designer, Lindy Hemming; sound (Dolby Digital/SDDS/DTS), Pud Cusack; supervising sound editors, Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman; assistant director, Jamie Marshall; second unit director, John Mahaffie; casting, Pam Dixon. Reviewed at Warner Bros. screening room, Burbank, Jan. 20, 2010. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 117 MIN.

With: Thomas Craven - Mel Gibson Darius Jedburgh - Ray Winstone Jack Bennett - Danny Huston Emma Craven - Bojana Novakovic Burnham - Shawn Roberts Millroy - David Aaron Baker Whitehouse - Jay O. Sanders Moore - Denis O'Hare

More Film

  • Japan's Toei Animation Teams With Saudi's

    Japan's Toei Animation Teams With Saudi's Manga Productions on 'The Journey'

    In an industry-building effort for Saudi Arabia, new Saudi animation studio Manga Productions has teamed up with Japan’s Toei Animation on a $10 million to $15 million animation feature titled “The Journey,” an epic based on Saudi folklore to be directed by Shizuno Kobun, whose credits include “Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle.”  Manga [...]

  • 'Joan of Arc' Review: Bruno Dumont's

    Cannes Film Review: 'Joan of Arc'

    You have to hand it to Bruno Dumont, France’s dark prince of dour auteurism: He never makes the same film twice, even when he does, to all intents and purposes, make the same film twice. Two years ago, he offered his own singular contribution to cinema’s well-stocked canon of Joan of Arc dramas: As a [...]

  • Rosie Day, Harriet Sanson Harris, Natalia

    Rosie Day, Harriet Sanson Harris, Natalia Tena Set For Juanma Bajo Ulloa’s Thriller ‘Baby’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    CANNES– Rosie Day (“Outlander”), Harriet Sanson Harris (“Phantom Thread”) and Natalia Tena (“Game of Thrones”) will star in Spaniard Juanma Bajo Ulloa’s psychological thriller “Baby,” Variety has learned exclusively. The project will be pitched on May 19 at Fantastic 7, a new Cannes initiative seeing seven of the world’s most prestigious fantastic festivals back and [...]

  • Polish Fest’s Industry Event Presents Upcoming

    New Horizons’ Polish Days Goes to Cannes With Five Films in Progress

    CANNES  —  Buoyed by a wave of international successes, including Pawel Pawlikowski’s 2019 foreign-language Oscar nominee “Cold War,” Polish cinema will get a fitting showcase Sunday morning with the presentation of five new projects at New Horizons’ Polish Days Goes to Cannes. Organized in conjunction with the Polish Film Institute, Polish Days is the most important [...]

  • Cannes, Annecy Animation Day Hosts ‘Bob

    Coala to Pitch ‘Bob Spit: We Do Not Like People’ at Cannes, Annecy Animation Day

    São Paulo-based Coala Filmes impressed in the series competition at last year’s Annecy Intl. Film Festival with an episode of their popular stop-motion series “Angeli the Killer,” based on the famous comics of the Brazilian comic-book writer of the same name. This year, the film’s director Cesar Cabral and producer Ivan Melo are participating in [...]

  • Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich’s $100 Million

    Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich’s $100 Million Film Fund Launches

    CANNES  —  Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich’s $100 million private film fund Kinoprime is ready for business, the fund’s CEO, Anton Malyshev, said in Cannes this week. Financed to the tune of $100 million over the next three years, the fund can provide up to 50% of a film’s production budget, with a $2 million cap [...]

  • Russian Helmer of Blockbuster ‘Stalingrad’ Looks

    Russia’s Fedor Bondarchuk Unveils Four New Films in Cannes

    CANNES  —  Russian director Fedor Bondarchuk introduced four new productions from his Art Pictures Studio Saturday in Cannes, including “Attraction 2,” the sequel to his 2017 sci-fi blockbuster. The invitation-only showcase at the Gray d’Albion hotel also unveiled footage from three new features that Bondarchuk is either directing or producing. Sci-fi thriller “Sputnik” is the story [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content