Mel Gibson, the once golden leading man of cinematic violence, has been missing from cinema screens for almost a decade, during which time he had his very public breakdown. After another directing stint with Apocalypto, Gibson finally returns to the front of camera and is immediately back in familiar territory.
Edge of Darkness is sent in the same vein as Payback, dark, violent and compelling to the end. Revenge is a dominant theme in the film and the role of Thomas Craven, a veteran Boston homicide detective who goes rogue in order to hunt down the men responsible for his daughter’s murder, is right in his Gibson’s comfort zone. But even though Gibson is at the top of his game in Edge of Darkness, the film’s “renegade cop” bit would still feel stale if not being handled by a first class film making team, who manage to make even the most conventional of concepts can be made fresh and interesting again.
Nonetheless, the notion of seeing Gibson’s face in an actual movie, and not in the pages of some tabloid, is pretty strange at first, and that could be the reason for the bloody murder of Craven’s daughter. The grisly scene shifts our focus from Mel as tabloid curiosity to Mel as angry, grieving father in sudden and dramatic fashion.
And Mel’s a powerhouse machine as angry, grieving fathers, his weathered and weary face seething with barely-contained rage as he stalks his daughter’s assailants with grim, unwavering determination. The trail lands him waist-deep in a fascinatingly complex conspiracy involving secret nuclear stockpiles, shady defense contractors, duplicitous government bureaucrats, effete senators, and corrupt cops. And while none of those things matter much to Gibson’s character, who simply wants to batter bloody sense out of everyone who dares stand between him and his devastating vengeance, they’re crucial to us, keeping us riveted to our seats throughout this taut, pulse-pounding thriller.
Like Robert Downey Jr. since his brush with the law, it seems that time away from the glamour and lights of Hollywood has brought America’s leading vigilante back to where he belongs.