Edge Of Darkness is director Martin Campbell's remake of his own 1985 television mini-series originally produced for the BBC. Mel Gibson plays the lead role of Thomas Craven (originally played by Bob Peck as Ronald Craven), a Boston police detective happy to have his twenty-something daughter, Emma (Bojana Novakovic) back in town for a visit. He notices something is off almost immediately after picking her up when he sees her throwing up, but she puts his mind at ease right away by telling him that she's definitely not pregnant. They head to his house and settle in for the night and Tom soon clues into the fact that there's something on her mind, something she's not telling him. He pokes and prods and just as she's about to tell him what's bothering her so much a masked assailant arrives, shotgun in town, and shoots her dead on the spot.
The Boston Police Department understandably assumes that the shotgun blast was meant for Thomas - after all, he's a respected cop who has put more than his fair share of criminals behind bars while she's simply a lowly research intern at a corporation called Northmoor. Why would anyone want her dead? Thomas decides to set out and answer that question when, after finding a handgun in her luggage, starts to realize that he wasn't the target after all - she was. He sets out and investigates by quizzing her mysterious boyfriend, David Burnham (Shawn Roberts), and then later her boss, a shifty snake in the grass named Jack Bennett (Danny Huston), before he realizes that Emma was affiliated with a group bent on stopping Northmoor. He even goes as far as talking to Senator Jim Prine (Damian Young), but he's not getting the answers he wants. He eventually meets up with a 'security consultant' named Jedburgh (Ray Winstone in a role played by Joe Don Baker in the 1985 version) who may or may not be willing to help him or be completely trustworthy. Thomas quickly comes to understand that this goes much deeper into the world of politics and subterfuge than he ever imagined.
First things first - anyone who has seen the original Edge Of Darkness is bound to be disappointed by some of the changes that have been made to the storyline and to the characters. What was originally written as a poignant and tense look at the British political scene of the 1980s, what with Thatcherism and Reaganism reigning supreme, has been turned into a fairly generic thriller. The characters that were, in the original version, edgy and believably dangerous are now clichés, some having been completely neutered (Emma being the most obvious and glaring character change). With the political climate having changed significantly since then, you can't half way blame the filmmakers for doing this but at the same time, it's hard not to make the comparison and once you do make that comparison, the characters in the eighties version are more interesting.
Those who saw the trailer for the film before it hit theaters may have been lead to believe that Edge Of Darkness would be a slam-bang revenge film similar to Taken but the film is in fact considerably more deliberate and brooding in its pacing. In fact, while there are a few action set pieces, the film is more of a thriller than a straight up action movie - this isn't a bad thing, mind you, but those looking for shoot outs and brawls will be disappointed. Judged on its own merits, the film isn't a bad one. It's pretty entertaining despite the fact that it falls prey to a series of clichés that seasoned viewers will see coming a mile away. The cast makes it all quite watchable, with Gibson, in his much discussed return to acting after a lengthy hiatus, reminding us why he became a box office draw. If you're able to put some of his recent personal issues aside, he's a likeable guy and you feel for him when he loses his only child which makes his quest for revenge entirely understandable. Ray Winstone is also very good in his role as the mysterious consultant, and while his performance almost seems like it would be better suited to something like Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels he does at least bring an interesting dynamic to the movie.
So despite the problems with the character changes, despite the fact that it's pretty predictable, and despite the fact that it's riddled with clichés, Edge Of Darkness is perfectly enjoyable and frequently exciting entertainment. It's not hard to figure out where it's all going, but getting there is an easy enough trip to take. It could and should have delved deeper into character motivations rather than piddle around with its convoluted message and conspiracy theories but what's here is decent, if obviously flawed, entertainment.
Edge Of Darkness arrives on Blu-ray in an VC-1 encoded 2.40.1 anamorphic widescreen 1080p high definition transfer. The transfer on this disc replicates the style of cinematography and camerawork that was used to create the film quite accurately. What does this mean to the viewer? Things lean towards the dark side in terms of lighting and contrast, so don't go into this one expecting the colors to leap off of the screen at you. Skin tones look lifelike and natural, never too pink, while black levels are nice and strong and inky deep without sacrificing shadow detail, which is handled quite well here. Detail is pretty decent, especially in close up shots, and the source material is clean throughout showing no problems with print damage. The encoding is clean, there are no problems with mpeg compression artifacts or pesky edge enhancement to complain about - just keep in mind that this is a dark, gritty looking film.
Audio options are supplied in English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track with subtitles offered in English SDH, French and Spanish. This isn't as bombastic a mix as you might expect, mainly because Edge Of Darkness' sound mix reflects the film's story. It's not a slam-bang action film, it's more of a brooding revenge based film and the audio reflects this really nicely. Yes, there definitely are spots where you'll notice the surrounds kicking into high gear - the primary example being the scene in which a certain character is whacked by a fast moving car which then spins around and races back - but these are the exception rather than the rule. Much of the film is made up of quieter, more dramatic parts, though these sound quite good. There's generally a nice bit of ambient background noise present, whether it's outside traffic or the sound background dialogue, and the levels are mixed perfectly. There aren't any problems at all with hiss or distortion to complain about and bass response is tight and strong. The score is used quite effectively, spread out through the various channels to good effect, and while this may not appease those looking for something to really give their surround system a workout, it fits the movie really well and sounds very good indeed.
The bulk of the extra features are found in the Focus Points section, which is a collection of nine different mini-documentaries that total just over a half an hour in length. The titles pretty much explain what is covered: Mel's Back, Making A Ghost Character Real, Scoring The Edge Of Darkness, Revisiting The Edge Of Darkness Mini-Series, Thomas Craven's War Of Attrition, Boston As A Character, Director Profile: Martin Campbell and Edge Of Your Seat. The more interesting aspects are how this big screen adaption is related to the original BBC mini-series, how and why Gibson returned to working in front of the camera for this film, and how Boston was used so effectively in the film. These brief featurettes give us a decent look at what went into making the movie, but they don't go into quite as much detail s they could have.
Warner has also supplied a few minutes worth of Deleted Scenes, presented in high definition, that really don't add much to the film and would have slowed down the pace had they been left in. Rounding out the extras are some trailers and promos for other Warner releases that play before you get to the menu, some Blu-ray Live connectivity, and chapter stops. A second disc inside the keepcase contains a standard definition version of the film and a digital copy.
Edge Of Darkness doesn't reinvent the wheel but it does work well as an entertaining mix of a conspiracy theory oddity and a pretty standard revenge movie. Gibson's performance is a good one and the film has enough tension and suspense that it's certainly worth watching. Warner's Blu-ray looks and sounds as good as you'd expect the film to, and though it's light on extras, the film is still worth seeing. Recommended for enthusiasts, a solid rental for everyone else.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.