Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Mel returns from the Edge of career Darkness

Edge Of Darkness, a remake of an old BBC miniseries marks the return of Mel Gibson to the front of the camera lens after spending most of his time behind it for the past few years with The Passion Of Christ and Apocalypto. Other than the Lethal Weapon series or Braveheart, I’ve not regarded his work much, and only his performances in The Patriot or We Were Soldiers are of note in over a dozen years. It’s with great delight they I personally welcome Mel’s return to top-form here. There’s no What Women Want nonsense here. Mel’s cop character Thomas Craven isn’t a copy of Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon [before he got soft by Lethal Weapon 4] but it’s just as good – and that’s bloody brilliant.

Craven is motivated to in a cold-calculated investigation following the brutal and tragic murder of his daughter and this quickly degenerates into a revenge-spree, while far better than his Payback movie, it's not as intense as Pierre Morel's Taken from which some similarities have been drawn, but that's a good thing as Liam Neeson doesn't look anywhere near 57 but Gibson looks much older than 54 and wouldn't convincingly pull off an over the top action role anymore. Still Mel does provide a staggeringly good performance and is given a more than adequate script written by Andrew Bovell and William Monahan [who previously converted Infernal Affairs into The Departed for Scorsese] to work with as he shines under Martin Campbell's direction.

As Robert DeNiro exited the movie due to some "creative differences", British tough-guy Ray Winstone was drafted in with some 72 hours notice to play the enigmatic, Darius Jedburgh, a man, whom we assume is a freelance "fixer" of certain "problems." Despite Mel's excellent performance, you can't not also love Winstone with his world-weary dialogue along with a calm demeanour to appreciate good cigars and fine wines. Sadly we're somewhat robbed of any speculation about Winstone being the "big bad" as soon as Danny Heuston appears as Bennett, head of the mysteriously secretive Northmoor facility which may, somewhat laughably, easily draw comparisons to a Bond-villian-esque lair [complete with rocket].

Martin Casino Royale Campbell amazingly returns to direct this Hollywood movie remake of the British series that he actually directed himself back in 1985. Gone are all the ridiculous science-fiction elements of the original which dealt with the spirit of the earth punishing mankind for it’s rape of her environment. That sort of nonsense is best left back in the 80’s with Captain fucking Planet and was thankfully avoided here – plus we all remember SignsMel’s 2002 abysmal foray into the realm of sci-fi (shudder).

Final Verdict: A brilliant script supports some exceptional acting performances and despite some amazing flaws which produce some incredible laughs in completely inappropriate places; it’s nowhere near enough for that to detract much from this whole visceral experience of what I’m sure will be one of best thrillers of the year.

Colonel Creedon Rating: ****

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