In “Edge of Darkness,” Thomas Craven (Mel Gibson, “Signs”) is a good cop and a decent dad. The relationship with his daughter, Emma, has been a little strained lately, especially since she left for college. Nevertheless, she comes home to see her dad, and the Boston police detective is happy to oblige.
But something with her isn’t right. Emma (Bojana Novakovic, “Drag Me to Hell”) has a strange nosebleed and has been acting a little funny. She needs to tell her father something, but before she gets the chance, a gunman unloads a shotgun into her torso on the steps of Craven’s house.
Investigators at first assume Emma was an innocent bystander and that Thomas was the intended target “ he’s a no-nonsense cop who put away a ton of perps, after all “ but upon finding a pistol among her belongings, the increasingly affected and hysteric father decides it’s time to launch his own secret investigation into his daughter’s death.
Thomas, of course, plays by his own rules, which includes picking locks and kicking down doors to interrogate the shifty boyfriend (Shawn Roberts, “I Love You, Beth Cooper”) his now-dead daughter never introduced him to, questioning all her friends and paying Emma’s previous employer, defense contractor Northmoor, a visit.
Northmoor CEO Jack Bennett (Danny Huston, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”) meets with Thomas and apologizes for his loss. A lot of what his company does is classified government work, Bennett tells pops cop, but Emma was a well-liked young intern and a great low-level employee.
Along the way, a shadowy character named Jedburgh (Ray Winstone, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”) pays Thomas a visit to say he’s a “consultant” with Northmoor employed to keep the father from finding out too much. Jedburgh instead becomes a kindred spirit to the grieving Thomas “ sort of “ and instead helps him with his investigation, but it’s not entirely clear who the mystery man is working for: himself, Northmoor, Thomas or the anxious group of senators and political figures with ties to the defense contractor and its sensitive work with nuclear weaponry.
Directed by Martin Campbell (“Casino Royale,” “The Legend of Zorro”), “Edge of Darkness” isn’t really edgy or dark, but it still works. The grieving-father role isn’t much of a stretch for Gibson (see “Ransom”) and obviously neither is the errant-cop role (see every other Gibson movie), but he’s likable and largely believable.
Huston is a compelling corporate creep, and Winstone has become quite a good heavy lately (see “The Departed”). Most of the real intrigue comes with the behind-the-scenes political angle between Northmoor and politicians Massachusetts Sen. Jim Pine, (Damian Young, “Everybody’s Fine”) and his aide, Millroy (David Aaron Baker, “The Hoax”), to whom the company is linked, but “Edge of Darkness” keeps most of the action away from the edges and at front and center, paying little attention to subtlety or nuance.
Still, for a running-and-gunning movie about a dad seeking revenge, “Edge of Darkness” works just fine. It’s nothing daring or new, but that’s OK. Neither is Mel Gibson. “Joe Wertz