Socialist Worker

Edge of Darkness doesn’t measure up to the moving original

by Gareth Beniston
Issue No. 2188

Mel Gibson in Edge of Darkness

Mel Gibson in Edge of Darkness


In his first film for eight years Mel Gibson plays Thomas Craven, an ex-forces police officer.

The movie is based on a landmark 1985 British TV series.

It starts the same way – with Craven and his daughter being shot at. She dies, and he is left trying to discover who might have wanted him dead. He also has to confront the possibility that his daughter was the real target.

Craven is drawn into a conspiracy involving the government and the nuclear industry. Gibson keeps you watching, as does Ray Winstone in a small part. It’s an efficient movie and you’ll see far worse Hollywood films this year.

Martin Campbell is now a Hollywood action director, but he made his name directing the original BBC series.

He tries hard to live up to his own 1980s classic.

The movie also tries to emulate the great Hollywood political thrillers of the 1970s, like The Parallax View and Three Days of the Condor.

It fails on both counts.

The brilliantly-acted original plays out over five and a half hours and is full of tension and suspense.

Without lecturing the viewer, the series managed to portray terrible personal loss set against the Miners’ Strike, James Lovelock’s Gaia theory and the prospect of nuclear devastation.

It gave an incredibly nuanced depiction of the contradictions and sympathies within the international ruling class. The script, direction and a superb score mean that the series still feels fresh 25 years on.

Gibson’s film often feels tokenistic and even mean-spirited when compared to the genuinely profound and moving series. Treat yourself to the original on DVD.

Edge of Darkness
Directed by Martin Campbell
Out now


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Reviews
Tue 9 Feb 2010, 18:13 GMT
Issue No. 2188
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