Mel Gibson is in front of the camera for the first time in a while, leaving the behind the scenes work to a director who has form for action thrillers. Martin Campbell is the man most famously responsible for the excellent Bond re-boot Casino Royale (and also the pretty good Goldeneye). Here he directing a movie version of his own 1985 television series of the same name.
It’s not a series I know at all. The story has a similar feel to another recent big-screen version of a television thriller – State Of Play. Edge of Darkness shares some common ground with that story – a sense of paranoia, corporate suspicion and well-meaning individuals in over their heads. This is a decent thriller – it’s always a good sign when a thriller director doesn’t need to explain everything. It’s entertaining, and of course Gibson can do this sort of thing in his sleep. Which is more or less what he seems to do here – it’s not that his performance is bad, it’s just that it….well, just is. There he is, an ex-husband whose wife is we-know-not-where. There he is not drinking. There he losing his daughter to a lone gunman. There he is on the trail of a truth that takes us to the dark heart of shadowy corporations and sinister conversations with a deep-voiced Ray Winstone. There he is – doing what we expect Mel Gibson to do in a thriller – nothing more, nothing less.
While the State Of Play had a good dose of the series’ paranoia, pace and the sense of a mystery unravelling that you can never quite pin down, Edge Of Darkness comes up short. Stuff happens, then it doesn’t and it all goes a bit quiet. More stuff happens, then it’s quiet again; then it all speeds up a bit at the end with a climactic crisis that would have been taut beyond belief stretched over 2-3 episodes of gradually building hints, but here happens so quickly that in the end you just shrug and wait for a shoot-out and the credits. It’s not a bad film, it’s just a little dull. Which is precisely what Martin Campbell, Ray Winstone and Mel Gibson are not known. Shame.