For everyone who's tired of corporations being the bad guys in modern thrillers, I just want to remind you that, back in 1997, Cyberdyne Systems launched an artificial intelligence program that ended up killing us all in a nuclear fire.
It could be that radioactive fallout is responsible for your memory lapse on this. Also, Cyberdyne's ad campaign, "You Weren't Really Incinerated by Thermonuclear War; That Stinging Sensation Was the Sun's Fault. Yeah, the Sun," was pretty effective. I still asked for a Tickle-Me Terminator that year.
So yeah. Remember that not every corporation wants nothing more than to sell us quality merchandise at low, low prices. Some want to blow us to cinders and stomp on our dusty skulls. The villainous company in Edge of Darkness isn't quite that heinous, but that might be more from a lack of ambition than a lack of black-hearted evil.
Back home to visit father Mel Gibson, Bojana Novakovic is murdered right in front of him. As a Boston cop, Gibson's fellow officers proceed under the assumption he was the intended target.
But his investigation soon turns up hints the killer was there for Novakovic. As Gibson starts to poke around her workplace, a classified fusion research facility, he finds himself under siege from a company that 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 flicks such as Lethal Weapon. What I'm getting at is I don't watch any of his stuff expecting it to be "good." Fun and enjoyable, quite possibly, but all within the realm of the "TNT movie," something you'd happily watch on cable every weekend instead of finding a job, you lazy cause of America's economic woes.
Imagine my alarm, then, when Edge of Darkness started being all good. Novakovic's death comes early, but rather than rushing right off to a one-man campaign of gunslinging violence so X-treme it instantly spawns MTVs 3 through 9, the movie gives Gibson time to grieve. To act, which apparently he can do (though it's basically just a superior variant on his "I am seething with barely-suppressed rage"-face). To figure out, piece by piece, who wanted his daughter dead.
Director Martin Campbell is a strange case. Before getting all awesome with Casino Royale, he made No Escape, itself an ultimate example of a TNT movie.
He's flashing some skills these days. While Edge of Darkness is mostly drama, its action scenes are shocking, swift and intense. He lays out the details of the conspiracy with subtle but clear logic that doesn't waste its time.
We've seen both the corporate conspiracy and "cop's case turns personal" stories before, but writers William Monahan and Andrew Bovell avoid cliches while rolling out dialogue that's within spitting distance of Monahan's work on The Departed, a movie I love so much I go through its garbage when it's sleeping. Bonus: Ray Winstone shows up here, too, and is just as arresting.
This one isn't as funny or propulsive as The Departed. Instead Edge of Darkness is deeply competent and persistently tense, an angry thriller that boils over in its violent finale.