Tuesday, February 02, 2010

"Edge of Darkness": a frightening scenario (if believable), especially for a research intern; Mel Gibson is almost superfluous

Well, Warner Brothers touted out its full Casablanca signature for its new film “Edge of Darkness” with Mel Gibson as a macho Boston cop dealing with the violent death of his daughter. GK Films, Icon Films and BBC produced the film, directed by Martin Campbell, with a screenplay adapted from a 1985 miniseries.

The film is somewhat a stereotyped thriller, with clever lines like “Everything is illegal in Massachusetts” (except gay marriage), and Gibson gets to make a like about the nails on the cross.

But the premise of the new film stretches things a bit. It seems that an esteemed Berkshire area defense contractor, and big supporter of a Republican Senator (familiar?) has gone amok, supposedly doing civilian nuclear fusion research but actually making nuclear weapons for rogue regimes. (I suppose that this could qualify this film for my “disaster movies” blog.) It’s hard to believe that the management of a company (Danny Huston is chilling as CEO, with great mountain views from his office; check also Ray Winstone as Jedburgh) like this would go for jihad under our noses and not get caught, drawing politicians to the take. Here, the Boston police are innocent of all knowledge.

But another point concerns the position that the daughter Emma Craven (Bojana Novakovic) is put in as a paid research intern. She feels forced to become an “activist” and surrender her life for the common good. The early scenes of her radiation sickness and then her drive-by hit-style execution are indeed horrific. Generally, when people take jobs like this they sign strict confidentiality agreements, particularly with classified material. In the world of security clearances, the accumulation of information (“connecting the dots”) sometimes conveys more damaging material than isolated items. An individual could find his or her own value systems compromised. Emma's wild boyfriend, Shawn Roberts, also struggles; Craven (Gibson) knows that he is good at heart.

In the later part of 2008 there were a couple of hit-style slayings in suburban Maryland, near Washington, of young workers in classified jobs, the circumstances of which seem recalled by this movie.

It is true that the writing of the film follows the usual technique of putting the "hero" (Gibson's cop character) in dire straits and forcing him to use increasing wits to get out (as when he is tasered and chained down). But his story line is almost superfluous to the "issues" of the film, tracked by background media commentators and even included in posthumous CD's.

The official WB site for the movie is here.

The UK Icon Films trailer is here.

Warner Brother's logo with Casablanca theme is here.

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