EDGE OF DARKNESS:

The best of the post-JFK, Vietnam era “paranoid conspiracy” movies (e.g. THE PARALLAX VIEW) had a chilling believability in their presentation of mysterious forces powerful enough to strike at anyone without incurring any suspicion. The element of credulity is sorely missing in this film about a Boston policeman (Mel Gibson) bent on finding his daughter’s (Bojana Novakovic) killer. The opening scenes would have us believe that father and child have a tight bond despite the fact that he doesn’t know anything about where she works, whom she dates or why she pukes before eating. After her murder, Gibson (See sidebar below.) becomes obsessed with tracking down the perpetrators, which leads him to the head (Danny Huston) of a shadowy weapons defense corporation that you just know is up to no good. It’s here that the movie erratically shifts from being a gritty, film noir drama to being an escapist work not meant to be taken seriously. Even the interior of Huston’s (THE PROPOSITION) palatial office has the elaborate look of one of those ornate sets designed by Ken Adam in the earlier 007 flicks. The underlying plot about the covert shipment of nuclear materials to rogue nations (Yeah, nobody would ever catch that happening.) is a bad fit for a work wanting to pass itself off as harsh reality. I didn’t buy it for one minute, and I doubt that anyone else will. Based on a popular 1985 British television miniseries, EDGE comes off like the compressed narrative that it is with only a few compelling moments. Even the violent climax feels like normally gifted screenwriter William Monahan’s (THE DEPARTED) way of saying, “Let’s just kill everybody off and let the audience sort out the plot.” CRITIC’S GRADE: C+

GOOD MOVIES WITH MEL GIBSON: MAD MAX (1979), GALLIPOLI (1981), THE ROAD WARRIOR (1981), THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY (1983), LETHAL WEAPON (1987), LETHAL WEAPON 2 (1989), BRAVEHEART (1995)*, RANSOM (1996), THE PATRIOT (2000), WHAT WOMEN WANT (2000), WE WERE SOLDIERS (2002), SIGNS (2002), THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST (2004)**, APOCALYPTO (2006)**

*Won Academy Award for Best Director and Best Picture

**Only directed the movie