Edge of Darkness (15)

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The Independent Culture

Anyone expecting this film to honour (let alone improve on) the original 1985 BBC drama series on which it is based should look away now.

The screenwriters William Monahan and Andrew Bovell have performed on Troy Kennedy Martin's superb labyrinthine eco-thriller the equivalent of the junkyard machine that takes a car and crushes it into a sorry-looking metal cube. Mel Gibson plays his first starring role in seven years, as a tough Boston cop who sees his only daughter (Bojana Novakovic) shot dead on the steps of their home, but what is initially assumed to be a botched hit on him is soon revealed as a dark conspiracy involving nuclear secrets and murder sanctioned by government and big business. Gibson, content to play the charmless brute going eyeball to eyeball with Ray Winstone's mysterious fixer and Danny Huston's slimeball bigwig, is mostly reprising the mad-dog avenger he played in Payback, only a bit wrinklier, a bit angrier and possibly even a bit shorter. His violent propensities would be more usefully channelled into directing. (I still regard his Apocalypto as a career highpoint). By the final reel the script has lost all interest in the plot's complexities and drops the pretence of "darkness" in favour of a frenzied shoot-'em-up.

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