Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Review: Edge of Darkness

I'm sorry but this needs to be discussed. After what seems like decades since Mel Gibson has shown his face in a film, he has returned and just thought we'd all be OKAY with it. I mean, this is the guy that for the past four years has been in the news beating on officers about anti-Jewish psychobabble and directed Apocalypto. I remember clearly seeing those fake heads rolling down those Aztec stairs and was thinking, maybe Mel Gibson isn't as sane as we all hope his is. Maybe we're all more just too scared of him to otherwise not say his films are questionable. Either that or you do a film about Jesus and you get so many check and black marks to your name its really hard to determine what you can say about the guy.

'I'm gettin' too old for this shit," a wise man once said. That's what Mel Gibson could have said before he signed on for Edge of Darkness. I wouldn't have cared if I ever saw Mel Gibson's face on screen again if this movie hadn't of come out either, but alas, it did and now I'm faced with the jaw dropping realization that perhaps Mel Gibson should be seen more often. I'm not saying I want him playing the goofy father in the latest Disney movie with Miley Cyrus' newly revealed third personality or to be the voice of some CGI Dreamworks pic, I more mean if every once in a while, some corporate/legal thriller with need of ass-kickery came out with Mel Gibson slotted in for the main role, you might catch me in the theater more often.

Edge of Darkness is a quick to the chase mind bender based around a police officer losing his daughter. Police assume that he was the primary target for the killing and begin to build their case around that assumption, whereas Kraven (Gibson) isn't easily convinced and begins to investigate his daughter's life in search for a possible reason why someone could have wanted his daughter dead.

I know I'm a sucker for the lost child angle, there is nothing worse than a parent losing their son or daughter, Minority Report, Shutter Island, these films just seem to get to me emotionally because of that angle. It's something that not only is universal but is in my opinion very effective when captured on film. There is something about the grief of loss that when really explored in film transcends words or images, take Minority Report for instance: you really feel John Anderton's apartment when he or Colin Farrell's character walk into it. It looks like a terrarium, like the place he lives is its own environment; his apartment in every way reflects his state of being: it is divided, on edge, disorganized and a place of excess and haunting memories. Having such a powerful emotional drive behind a character not only connects the character to the audience, but also to the cinematographer because now he can capture that raw emotion and have the ability to subtly explore those themes through images and little half hints that you may notice and get something from if manage to catch.

There is something universal in this theme, the loss of a child. Those who have gone through it understand the loss, those who haven't can only imagine. Mel Gibson's revenge is the same as Liam Neeson's need to save his daughter in Taken, and though I can see many similarities between both Taken and Edge of Darkness, I personally think that Edge of Darkness is a much less of an action film and more a personal story and a personal story is always the best to get your audience really rooting for your characters.

That is what this film did more that anything, kept it a personal story. You really do feel that Mel Gibson has lost the only thing that mattered in his life, Thomas Kraven's little girl was the only girl in his life and she was taken away from him and now he's got nothing left but a lot of unanswered questions. Some of the best segments are those of Kraven at his home and in the flashbacks with his daughter as a child, what the filmmakers managed to pull off was building the character's back story and history without ever going into it to explain it all, much like in Minority Report with Tom Cruise's apartment, Thomas Kraven's home just screams this man's life in every shot, every close up of a photo album or picture frame, case file, chair, that old mantelpiece, whatever; the viewers see this home as a place that once held love and history.

And then there's the legal/corporate mind game and the action and all that. I've managed to talk quite a bit about the emotional draw of the movie and not much about the very well done and executed fight scenes and explosions and car crashes and mystery and what have you. I can say a number of things about all the nice action and confusion along the ride but I think this review has gone on long enough for you to be bored by now or maybe enticed to see the film. What separates Edge of Darkness from any other corporate thriller these days is its deeply rooted personal themes and humanity. This film is not something new, merely it is something very good. Mel Gibson, hats off to you, you crazy, crazy person.