EDGE OF DARKNESS is adapted and scripted by William Monahan, and like his other big screenplay, THE DEPARTED, is set in Boston, though this time out everything's much more corporate conspiracy-laden and not quite so gritty. Still, what the film offers up is another morally complex piece of work where it's difficult to tell where the blurry line between "right" and "wrong" starts to fade completely. It's not an original concept, especially for what is essentially a film about a cop, but it does this particularly well, balancing Thomas Craven the vengeful family man with Thomas Craven the officer out for justice.
Gibson plays Craven, whose daughter's murder is believed early on in the film to be an accident related to an ex-con's vendetta, but which turns into something much darker and more sinister than a simple revenge fantasy could ever be. As is appropriate in these types of films, the badass detective goes on his own investigation to figure out what really happened, and comes up with real answers. And while in this day and age it's a bit inconceivable that a giant corporation would actually be held accountable for their actions, it's nonetheless satisfying to see that scenario play out, and then be handled effectively by Craven himself. Who's accountable now, punks?
The film is directed by Martin Campbell, who was also involved in the original, as well as 2006's CASINO ROYALE, which launched him into semi-superstar director status. He's well-known and fairly highly regarded in film circles in the very least. His involvement here shows a sure hand, unafraid of revisiting themes and variations he's been exploring for over twenty years in a different milieu and culture. He shoots the film's slower scenes appropriately flat, giving out precious expositional information in a similar method to THE WIRE, where nothing is really repeated and you must pay attention to what's said, but when the action revs up, it's not over-the-top slam-bang stuff; mostly it's ridiculously realistic, even when Gibson shoots the driver of a car sent to run him down and then shoots out a tire to make the car swerve and miss him. Yes, I realize I use the term realistic loosely in this case, but how many big 'action' movies do you see where someone actually has to shoot a tire out to cause the car to swerve? Realism and ridiculous are good bed-partners anyway.
All in all, I really enjoyed this. It's appropriately dark and depressing, beginning and ending in tragedy, but Gibson really shines. For me, he saves the film on more than one occasion just by delivering his dialogue in that way that I can only imagine him saying it. While not a great film, EDGE OF DARKNESS is more than serviceable as a thriller, and it really is a lot of fun, and features a great supporting cast that I won't spoil for you by saying too much about them apart from what you've undoubtedly seen in the trailers.