Warner Bros. | 2010 | 117 mins. | Rated R

Appearing in his first lead role since 2002’s Signs, Mel Gibson returns to form as a devastated homicide detective determined to avenge the murder of his only daughter, uncovering corporate corruption and political conspiracy in the process.

Don’t be surprised if the story sounds familiar. Edge of Darkness is based on the 1985 British TV miniseries,  directed by Martin Campbell (GoldenEye, The Mask of Zorro, Casino Royale), who returns to the helm for the feature film. The story, adapted from the six-part miniseries, combines a revenge movie with a detective investigation and a conspiracy plot.

Edge of DarknessGibson stars as Thomas Craven, a Boston police detective happy to have his twenty-something daughter, Emma (Bojana Novakovic) 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 not pregnant. Once settled into his house for the evening, Tom is convinced there’s something she’s not telling him. He questions her about it repeatedly. Just as she is about to tell him what’s going on, a masked assailant bursts in, shotgun in tow, and kills her instantly.

Understandably, Boston police assume the bullet was meant for Thomas. After all, he’s a cop, and any number of people could have a score to settle. Emma was just a lowly research intern at a corporation called Northmoor. Why would anyone want her dead? Thomas decides to get his own answers. When searching his daughter’s luggage, he’s surprised to find a handgun. Soon, it seems as though Emma may have been the target after all. Consumed with solving the mystery, Craven’s investigation leads him to question her daughter’s boyfriend David Burnham (Shawn Roberts), and 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 still not getting the information he wants.

Having seen the original mini-series just a few months ago, I found myself disappointed by the remake. The original delved deeper into the British political system of the 1980’s—Thatcherism and Reganism were the reigning values of the day, and that fact was obvious throughout the story. Without any real political overtones, this remake is really just a generic thriller.

Judged on its own merits, Edge of Darkness isn’t a terrible film, it just isn’t anything special. There are a series of clichés that many will see coming a mile away, and there isn’t as much action as the trailer might have suggested. Let’s face it; most everyone will understand a father wanting revenge for the loss of his only child. So, despite its flaws, Edge of Darkness is an entertaining film and marks the return of Mel Gibson in front of the camera.

Colors look vibrant and well contrasted, with realistic skin tones. Black levels are solid, even if they aren’t always the deepest. A modicum of natural film grain provides a degree of texture to an otherwise fairly flat image. And various lighting schemes result in some ordinary-to-excellent detailing and definition, with the merely ordinary shots appearing a bit soft. While not reference quality, this is nothing to complain about.

Because this is not a simple action film, we don’t get a typical booming soundtrack. Most of the story is an investigation, so the dialogue is all important, for which the midrange does a fine job. However, the several action scenes come off with authority, displaying strong impact and a few well-placed surround effects.

The disc provides English, French, and Spanish spoken languages; French and Spanish subtitles; and English captions for the hearing impaired.

The bulk of the special features comes in the form of nine, rapid-fire “Focus Point” featurettes (SD, 31 minutes) — “Craven’s War of Attrition,” “Mel’s Back,” “Director Martin Campbell,” “Making a Ghost Character Real,” “Boston as a Character,” “Adapting the Edge of Darkness Miniseries,” “Revisiting the Edge of Darkness Miniseries,” “Edge of Your Seat,” and “Scoring the Film,” — that provide a fairly decent overview of the production. A commentary or Picture-in-Picture track would have complemented the shorts nicely, particularly since each one was decidedly promotional in nature, but I still learned  a lot about the film. A small collection of redundant “Deleted Scenes” (HD, 6 minutes), a few BD-Live bonuses, and a DVD/Digital Copy combo disc rounds out the package.

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