Movie News & Reviews

Angry thriller 'Edge of Darkness' never lets up

For everyone who's tired of corporations being the bad guys in modernthrillers, I just want to remind you that, back in 1997, CyberdyneSystems launched an artificial intelligence program that ended upkilling us all in a nuclear fire.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

It could be that radioactive fallout is responsible for your memorylapse on this. Also, Cyberdyne's ad campaign, "You Weren't ReallyIncinerated by Thermonuclear War; That Stinging Sensation Was theSun's Fault. Yeah, the Sun," was pretty effective. I stillasked for a Tickle-Me Terminator that year.

So yeah. Remember that not every corporation wants nothing more thanto sell us quality merchandise at low, low prices. Some want to blowus to cinders and stomp on our dusty skulls. The villainous company inEdge of Darkness isn't quite that heinous, but that might bemore from a lack of ambition than a lack of black-hearted evil.

Back home to visit father Mel Gibson, Bojana Novakovic is murderedright in front of him. As a Boston cop, Gibson's fellow officersproceed under the assumption he was the intended target.

But his investigation soon turns up hints the killer was there forNovakovic. As Gibson starts to poke around her workplace, a classifiedfusion research facility, he finds himself under siege from a companythat believes itself beyond the law.

My not-entirely-accurate take on Gibson is he does two types of films:weak Oscar-bait like The Patriot and blockbuster action flickssuch as Lethal Weapon. What I'm getting at is I don't watch any ofhis stuff expecting it to be "good." Fun and enjoyable, quitepossibly, but all within the realm of the "TNT movie," something you'dhappily watch on cable every weekend instead of finding a job, youlazy cause of America's economic woes.

Imagine my alarm, then, when Edge of Darkness started being allgood. Novakovic's death comes early, but rather than rushing right offto a one-man campaign of gunslinging violence so X-treme it instantlyspawns MTVs 3 through 9, the movie gives Gibson time to grieve. Toact, which apparently he can do (though it's basically just a superiorvariant on his "I am seething with barely-suppressed rage"-face). Tofigure out, piece by piece, who wanted his daughter dead.

Director Martin Campbell is a strange case. Before getting all awesomewith Casino Royale, he made No Escape, itself anultimate example of a TNT movie.

He's flashing some skills these days. While Edge of Darkness ismostly drama, its action scenes are shocking, swift and intense. Helays out the details of the conspiracy with subtle but clear logicthat doesn't waste its time.

We've seen both the corporate conspiracy and "cop's case turnspersonal" stories before, but writers William Monahan and AndrewBovell avoid cliches while rolling out dialogue that's within spittingdistance of Monahan's work on The Departed, a movie I love somuch I go through its garbage when it's sleeping. Bonus: Ray Winstoneshows up here, too, and is just as arresting.

This one isn't as funny or propulsive as The Departed. InsteadEdge of Darkness is deeply competent and persistently tense, anangry thriller that boils over in its violent finale.

Grade: B+