EDGE OF DARKNESS. Excellent thriller with everything at the right place

Taken 2: The Sequel?

Rafał Donica

18 January 2024

EDGE OF DARKNESS. Excellent thriller with everything at the right place

Where did I pull the above title for my review from? Well, simply because it’s impossible to avoid comparing Edge of Darnkess with the film Taken. Hence, there are voices suggesting that the new film with Mel Gibson in the lead role is very similar to Liam Neeson’s picture. In both cases, it’s about a bloody vendetta led by a father against the tormentors of his daughter. Therefore, one could rightly accuse Edge of Darkness of being derivative and duplicating the formula. One could, if not for one detail. The new film by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) is based on a mini-series… by Martin Campbell from 1985, titled… Edge of Darkness. I probably don’t need to add that the plot of this mini-series was identical to its cinematic version from this year. I consider the topic of similarities between Taken and Edge of Darkness, with an emphasis on the undeserved accusations directed towards the latter, to be closed.

Seven years. That’s how long Mel Gibson made us wait – the actor, busy during this time directing The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto, dealing with drinking, anti-Semitism, and exchanging wives for a younger model. Alcoholism, racial prejudices, and the sudden change in the actor’s image from a loving husband and caring father to a playboy seeking pleasures in the arms of a young Ukrainian did not interest me, as I am not interested in the private lives of actors – their life, their business. However, I started to worry a bit that the increasingly time-pushed Mel Gibson (54 years old) would not return to acting, and certainly not to playing crazy, furious, and crazy characters. Gibson the director? Okay, the films that came out of his hands are really good pieces of cinema, but… I was eagerly waiting for Gibson the actor, and most of all for the one from the first two Lethal Weapons! Edge of Darkness

Edge of Darkness Mel Gibson

The crazy twinkle in his eye, the cheeky smile, and the lurking subcutaneous aggression are attributes that won my sympathy, creating the character of the unpredictable Martin Riggs. And although there is no trace of Riggs in Edge of Darkness (different years, gray hair, wrinkled forehead, the sparkle in the eye dimmed), it’s nice to see the fiercely angry Mad Max again. Mel embodies a detective here who is strongly inclined to find the people who, to put it mildly, have hurt his daughter quite a lot. And so, following the thread, which is ultimately – I won’t reveal a big secret here – turned into a tangle in the finale. Mel has a stern face, and suffering and the desire for revenge are very clearly painted on it. His character, from a dramatic point of view, is very well written and very well-played. And the quite frequent pulling of the trigger without blinking adds an undeniable charm. In short: Mel Gibson came out victorious from his return to the other side of the camera.

Edge of Darkness Mel Gibson Bojana Novakovic

The creator of Casino Royale, Martin Campbell, applies the same principle in Edge of Darkness as in the 21st installment of Bond’s adventures – lots of talking, less action, but when action does happen, it literally kicks ass. Edge of Darkness begins with a Hitchcockian earthquake lasting only a second, but the earthquake is so intense that it remains before the eyes until the end of the film. And that’s what the creators wanted, for the shock, under the influence of which the main character sets out to find the guilty, to accompany the viewers with the same intensity as him. There is a lot of dialogue in Campbell’s film, but – fortunately – interesting, intelligent dialogue. A significant contribution to this is the ambiguous character played by Ray Winstone and the relationships connecting him with our detective and the whole case.

Edge of Darkness Mel Gibson Ray Winstone

The ratio of dialogue to gunfire in the case of Edge of Darkness is perfectly balanced. And even the lack of a car chase, which I was expecting throughout the film and which the creators several times – as it seemed to me – started, did not spoil my viewing experience. What particularly pleased me was the fact that practically every action scene in the new Gibson film surprised me not only by starting unexpectedly and ending just as unexpectedly but also by the immense emotional charge they contained. Edge of Darkness is an example of an excellent thriller, where every fired bullet has its explanation in the script, and the bullets don’t drown out the dialogues. Simply a solid piece of cinematic meat.

Rafał Donica

Rafał Donica

Since watching "Blade Runner", he has been passionate about cinema, loves "Akira", "Drive", "Escape from New York", "North by Northwest", the underrated "The Hateful Eight" and "Terrifier 2". Author of the book "Frankenstein 100 years in cinema". Founder and editor-in-chief (in the years 1999 - 2012) of the Polish film portal FILM.ORG.PL. Since 2016, a professional reportage photographer.

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