Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Feb 09th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Mad Mel

film_melGibson back with a vengeance in 'Edge of Darkness'

Mel Gibson has never been one of those chameleon actors who disappears into a role. Even in Braveheart (especially in Braveheart), viewers could never forget they were watching Mel Gibson painted blue. Since Gibson's career has always been about persona, it's interesting to see how that persona is evolving in the political thriller, Edge Of Darkness, Gibson's first onscreen role in eight years. Physically, more lined and craggy than we remember, and smaller, even shorter on camera, his demeanor seems more humble and contained, less flamboyant.

This conservative, paternal approach befits his character here, a blue-collar police detective searching for the murderer of his grown daughter. But there's one aspect of Gibson's persona that has not altered over the years: ever since Braveheart, he's been drawn to playing the martyr, the stoic hero who suffers mightily for the sins of the rest of us. Gibson's martyr complex isn't so much of a problem at first in Edge Of Darkness; clues begin to add up, suspense builds, the action is fast, visceral and violent. It's not until the last quarter of the film that logic and dignity are tossed aside and we're invited to wallow in the character's pain and bow down to our wrathful, rampaging avenger.

Adapted from a 20-year old, six-part BBC mini-series, the film was rewritten and updated by scriptwriters William Monahan (The Departed) and Andrew Bovell. It's directed by action veteran Martin Campbell, who also directed the original TV series. The action is relocated to Boston, where detective Tom Craven (Gibson) is enjoying a rare visit from his 24-year-old daughter, Emma (Bojana Novakovic)—until she's gunned down on his porch. The cops assume Tom was the target, and start rounding up the usual suspects, but as soon as grieving Tom can bring himself to start going through Emma's things, evidence begins to suggest otherwise.

While his superiors try to herd him off the official police case, Tom launches a dangerous and increasingly isolating investigation of his own. It leads to the remote Connecticut woods and the top secret nuclear engineering plant with a government contract where Emma worked in her "classified" job, presided over by a silkily perverse CEO (Danny Huston). It leads to the ratty apartment where Emma's boyfriend is holed up, terrified he'll be the next victim. And it sets Tom on a collision course with philosophical British hit-man, Jedburgh (the highly entertaining Ray Winstone), who's smack in the middle of a belated crisis of conscience, and likens himself to Diogenes, searching for an honest man.

Things play out efficiently enough, with Tom outwitting thugs, out-muscling opponents, and coping with tender memories of Emma as an adorable child (Gabrielle Popa, in flashback). The grudging rapprochement Tom forges with Emma's boyfriend (Shawn Roberts) is also nicely done. (Although Tom's stock falls in a repulsive scene where he beats the living bejeebers out of an unarmed eco-activist leader who once put Emma in jeopardy.)

But as soon as Tom tells one of his highly-placed adversaries that it's time to "decide if you're hangin' on the cross, or bangin' in the nails," it all starts to devolve into The Passion of the Mel. Betrayed by his closest confidant, imprisoned in an underground sepulcher (from which he escapes all too easily), battle-scarred, poisoned, (and in possession of a miraculous piece of evidence: milk, in a glass bottle that neither shatters nor spills its contents while being hauled through all kinds of mayhem in a jacket pocket), Tom staggers into the finale like some kind of zombie avenger, blasting the bad guys into mincemeat.

film_edge_of_darknessThe Gibson persona requires that his characters get mad and even. As an extra bonus, Edge of Darkness offers not only a ritual of sacrificial death, but a fantasy of resurrection as well, just in case anyone in the audience was in danger of missing the allegory. It's too bad; the movie provides plenty of intrigue, all-too-plausible conspiracy theories, and corporate and governmental skullduggery. But in the end, it's all about Mel.

EDGE OF DARKNESS ★★

With Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, and Danny Huston. Written by William Monahan and Andrew Bovell. Directed by Martin Campbell. A Warner Bros release. (R) 117 minutes.
Watch movie trailer >>>

 

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

On the Run

Is there hope for California’s salmon?

 

Chinese New Year of the Red Fire Monkey

Monday, Feb. 8, is Aquarius new moon (19 degrees) and Chinese New Year of the Red Fire Monkey (an imaginative, intelligent and vigilant creature). Monkey is bright, quick, lively, quite naughty, clever, inquiring, sensible, and reliable. Monkey loves to help others. Often they are teachers, writers and linguists. They are very talented, like renaissance people. Leonardo Da Vinci was born in the year of Monkey. Monkey contains metal (relation to gold) and water (wisdom, danger). 2016 will be a year of finances. For a return on one’s money, invest in monkey’s ideas. Metal is related to wind (change). Therefore events in 2016 will change very quickly. We must ponder with care before making financial, business and relationship changes. Fortune’s path may not be smooth in 2016. Finances and business as usual will be challenged. Although we develop practical goals, the outcomes are different than hoped for. We must be cautious with investments and business partnership. It is most important to cultivate a balanced and harmonious daily life, seeking ways to release tension, pressure and stress to improve health and calmness. Monkey is lively, flexible, quick-witted, and versatile. Their gentle, honest, enchanting yet resourceful nature results often in everlasting love. Monkeys are freedom loving. Without freedom, Monkey becomes dull, sad and very unhappy. During the Spring and Autumn Period (770 - 476 BC), the Chinese official title of Marquis (noble person) was pronounced ‘Hou,’ the same as the pronunciation of ‘monkey’ in Chinese. Monkey was thereby bestowed with auspicious (favorable, fortunate) meaning. Monkey years are: 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016.  

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of February 5

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Wine and Chocolate

West Cliff Wines gets its game on, plus a brand new chocolate cafe on Center Street

 

How would you stop people from littering?

Teach them from the time that they’re small that it’s not an appropriate behavior. Juliet Jones, Santa Cruz, Claims Adjuster

 

Dancing Creek Winery

New Zinfandel Port is a ruby beauty

 

Venus Spirits

Changing law could mean new opportunity for local spirits