Edge of Darkness
Directed by Martin Campbell
Mel Gibson: Tha Return consists of much "I Want Answers" vigilante-copping plus cynical corporate skullduggery, and the twain don't quite meet. That's partly the plot: Boston officer Craven (Gibson) finds that the bloody trail of his daughter's murderers leads to a defense-industry concern called Northmoor, where she was interning (fresh graduates, beware). But in Martin Campbell's reworking of his six-hour 1985 British miniseries, Gibson's hard-hitting, blind-siding melees and Danny Huston's chilly conspiring are not sewn together well, with the biggest mystery being Ray Winstone's free-floating mercenary/commentator/bon vivant.
On the other hand, who cares, since the appeal of Edge of Darkness is the same as grimy B-pictures you'd sit through for the unhinged action bits or overworked, slightly perverse acting. There are at least two eruptions of violence that are good and nasty (and evidence that the ever business-minded Gibson remembers how the Liam Neeson revenge flick Taken cleaned up last February). The freewheeling sarcasm between Huston and Denis O'Hare as a U.S. government co-conspirator is amusingly overdone, and the rest of the cast luxuriates in various oily vocal registers (from a Boston brahmin senator to a guilty-from-a-mile-off assassin).
Which demonstrates more spirit than many studio thrillers, even though the film does a lot of wading. As for Gibson, who was last seen orchestrating pageants of physical extremity, the on-edge nerves of old come back in the form of a gravelly touchiness that's often quite effective, and suited to the story of a father who goes into shock and apparently never emerges.
Opens January 29