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|Eight years have elapsed since Mel Gibson headlined his last picture, M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs
(one of my favorites of 2002). In the intervening years the one time box office champion has been
involved in one controversy after another. Each has tarnished the actor’s once invincible reputation
with Gibson’s arrest on drunk and disorderly charges, complete with racist epitaphs and a pie eyed
mug shot for tangential proof, as the final assault on his stardom.
But the American culture has a long history of “forgive and forget” especially when it comes to movie
stars, athletes and politicians (read: celebrities). Emphasis on movie stars. Though Gibson hasn’t
exactly apologized for his abhorrent behavior enough time has passed that canny producers and
perhaps the actor himself have bet that the moment for his return to cinematic good standing has
It’s no accident, therefore, that the vehicle chosen for Gibson’s try at star rehabilitation, Edge of
Darkness, offers the actor a role that utilizes the qualities that made him a movie golden boy in
the first place. Tough, taciturn, yet driven by a broken heart (which the audience sees long before
any of the other characters surrounding Gibson), Boston detective Thomas “Tommy” Craven offers
the star a role that perfectly suits his unimpaired ability to connect with movie audiences – those that
loved him in the first place, that is.
The film, directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, Vertical Limit, GoldenEye), is a standard issue
conspiracy-murder thriller in which Gibson’s loner character stops at nothing to find out who brutally
murdered his activist daughter before his eyes. As in many previous Gibson vehicles it’s not a good
thing to be his camera offspring. Ransom, The Patriot, Signs, Payback, Braveheart and many of his
other movies have featured the star seeking vengeance, feeling guilty and/or grieving over the early
death or physical trauma of his character’s child/children.
This also being a typical Gibson outing, audiences can expect lots of bloody, violent action sequences
as he seeks revenge mixed in with quieter moments for Gibson to show us the heartbreak over the
loss of his little girl (the movie doesn’t complicate things by giving Gibson a wife, ex-wife or romantic
interest). There are a raft of good character actors on hand to keep things lively with Ray Winstone
at the top of the list. Out actor Denis O’Hare, naturally, once again plays a snotty bureaucrat and of
course, the movies new favorite baddie Danny Huston plays the villain (he’s so transparently a bad
guy that there’s now always a knowing laugh from audiences when he appears onscreen).
Edge of Darkness is an entertaining enough thriller, even filled with enough dumb dumb plot holes, to
if not welcome the butt kicking, heart of gold Mel Gibson back into good graces, at least give him a
temporary access pass. But this is a good time to issue a warning that must come with this
probationary period: watch your mouth Mel; keep your bad behavior to a minimum and the putrid
opinions to yourself. It’s your job to be a movie star. Nothing else will be asked or required from
|Update: Looks like Mr. Gibson didn't read my words of warning...