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Corrupt Arms Dealers…Darkness Everywhere

Movie Title: Edge of Darkness (2010)
Spoilers: No

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Sheets of rain come down. A father longs to see his grown daughter. He meets her at the airport. It's been too long. She's smart, beautiful, and gainfully employed. Mel Gibson is veteran Boston PD detective Thomas Craven. His daughter is Emma Craven (Bojana Novakovic). She works as a research assistant, but she never talks about her work. She's been away a while. The two reunite in a film's hurried beginning.

Craven wants to know why Emma is acting so strangely. She appears to be sick. Time to make up for lost time, but then something happens. Daughter is suddenly killed. This marks the end of a hasty beginning that doesn't quite take off as gracefully as it could have.

Craven suspects that whoever killed Emma was trying to kill him and accidentally killed his daughter. But then we learn that Emma worked at a nuclear facility as a research assistant. Sick? Nuclear? Hmm. I'm no genius, but I think I see where this is going.

What transpires is a movie with a modicum of sturdy suspense and (at times) a touching story, but with a cast lacking spontaneity in the too tightly woven plot that becomes hard to follow, with its loose-end questions and eyebrow-raising moments.

Ever present throughout the film is slow soapishness that involves a mourning father reflecting back on the good years with his young daughter. They are not as moving as when Craven thinks he sees her as an adult, still walking around like she never passed. Touching at times, but tedious throughout, Edge of Darkness does not hide the hit-and-miss tug-attempts at your heartstrings.

Gibson is not that strung-out rich man from Ransom who hollered so awesomely: “Give me back my son!” Here, he speaks slowly, with a well-drawn Bostonian accent. He knows his way in and around the law. He's sharp and capable, but less interesting, lacking the visible physical or emotional characteristics that would make him more appealing.

Emma was fine china to him, but now she's gone. He should have used the time better when she was alive. What do you have to lose when your child dies? Now, he is a broken man who wants answers and will confront everyone, from senators to high-dollar lawyers to make them squirm in their seats.

Answers and justice, that's all he wants. Thomas Craven is a toned down version of The Punisher—bloodshed may or may not be necessary, but damnit, the system better work! Edge of Darkness’ Craven is a hair more believable version of Law-abiding Citizen's Clyde Shelton. Both movies contain story elements that foster a consummate defiance of belief.

Emma had a secret. Now that she's dead, dad's got to jump through hoops to find out what happened and why. It involves her being a working recluse, a suspected anti-government non-conformist, even...a terrorist? And what is it with this undying obsession in movies with nuclear arms dealers being dirty and “offing” people who blow the whistle on them? There's not a better way to spawn more investigation than to start taking people out!

Connected characters stroll in, say a few words, consent to frisks, smoke cigars, have brandy, and assure one another that they could have killed them had they wanted to. They meet with corrupt city officials in old school, posh neighborhoods and have none too few “bad guy” henchman who wear black suits and drive conspicuously black SUVs in which they travel to do their black bag business. *yawn*

Neither the story, nor a part of it is novel, but when not caught up in its congested plot, burdened down with details that drive a hard bargain for believability, it offers a mild to moderate payoff as a touching drama and entertaining picture.

(JH)

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Grade: C+ (2½ Stars)
Rated: R (for language and violence)
Director:
Summary: A Boston police detective seeks to find his daughter’s killer.
Starring: Mel Gibson “Thomas Craven,” Ray Winstone “Jedburgh,” Danny Huston “Jack Bennett,” Bojana Novakovic “Emma Craven,” Shawn Roberts “Burnham,” David Aaron Baker “Millroy,” Jay O. Sanders “Whitehouse,” Denis O'Hare “Moore”
Genre: Action / Drama / Crime / Thriller
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