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Edge of Darkness (10/10)

by Tony Medley

Run time 117 minutes.

Not for children

Boston PD homicide detective Thomas Craven (Mel Gibson) is a a single father whose only child, 24-year-old Emma (Bojana Novakovic), is murdered in the first five minutes of the film in front of his own eyes. Forgetting everything else, he commits himself to finding her killer. As his investigation proceeds, he learns startling facts about his daughter, and runs into government and business corruption.

Based on a 1985 BBC miniseries of the same name (also directed by this film’s director, Martin Campbell, who directed one of my favorite miniseries, 1983’s “Reilly: Ace of Spies,” starring Sam Neill), “Edge of Darkness” is a high-tension thriller set in Boston with tentacles into business and politics. 

Despite the fact that Mel Gibson gives a spellbinding performance as the grief-stricken detective who is out for revenge, what makes this movie work is Campbell, who is an expert at pace and tension. There is not a minute of this film that lets you relax. Extra special is Craven’s relationship with shadowy hitman Darius Jedburgh (Ray Winstone), who is either out to kill Craven, or not. Whatever, Winstone gives an award-quality performance as a sensitive hitman (a Hollywood staple even though there is no such thing as a caring psychopath). Although the entire cast is superb, Danny Huston, who plays corporate chieftain Jack Bennett, stands out as appropriately hateful.

The only clumsiness in the movie was the identification of the corrupt Senator from Massachusetts as a Republican. Until Scott Brown was elected in response to overwhelming public opposition to Obama and the Democrat party (which occurred after this film was wrapped), it was unheard of for a Republican to be a Senator from Massachusetts. This could only be a political shot.

Some might think that the corporate corruption shown is asserting a leftwing position, but there are a lot of self-centered, avaricious despots running corporations. I’ve known some.

Adding charm to the film are the multiple locations, in and around Boston, including the Back Bay; the Boston Commons and Public Gardens, a magnificent Tudor mansion in Manchester, Lincoln, Merrimac, Charlestown, Newburyport, Rockport, and in the picturesque towns of Northampton and Amherst, and on top of Mt. Sugarloaf in Deerfield.

There is not one slow second in this entertaining film.