Based on the 1985 British miniseries of the same name, the film explores the horrifying secrets of a nuclear power company whose shady misdeeds are endorsed and hushed up by the US government.
While it feels as if Emma is not actually alive on-screen long enough for this to be a deep and probing look at family relationships, there is nonetheless well-acted and convincing emotion. Craven, as a strong-and-silent type with little left to live for, could quite easily have come across as shallow as a puddle on a summer’s day. Mel Gibson’s performance was, however, very engaging, and Thomas Craven was a well rounded character with more emotional depth than you might expect. However, there was perhaps not room in the story to successfully convey the struggles of the overly-enigmatic Darius Jedburgh (Ray Winstone) with his conscience and mortality. He has been sent to ‘clean-up’ any evidence of law-breaking at Northmoor, although never quite clear who employs him, or what in fact he is supposed to be doing except for fretting and popping prescription pills. Although Winstone’s performance is good, the character is overall slightly unnecessary and painfully close to interesting.
The film’s 15-certificate is apparently due to “strong bloody violence”, and Edge of Darkness does not disappoint in that respect. While the level of violence most probably won’t give you nightmares, a word of warning: as I found out to my cost, and much to the amusement of the man sitting next to me, it’s not the best film to watch if you have an aversion to vomit.
While this is not an unmissable film, and does not have the most original plot in the world, I would still recommend it for those who really enjoy a good crime thriller. Within its genre, this film ticks all the boxes. I jumped out of my seat a few times. Gibson broods for about 112 minutes out of 116, there’s tense music, a fist fight or two, more uncomfortably loud gunshots than I could count on both hands, and at one point a baddie’s car pirouettes into a lake. In slow motion, of course.
By the end I felt as if the conclusion had been quite a long time coming and that perhaps, it hadn’t really been worth waiting for. Overall, however, the balance of action, tension and understated dry wit is just about perfect, in a genre that can so easily churn out laughably over-the-top moments. Don’t get me wrong, there are some wonderfully cheesy cop-thriller lines – for instance, Craven: ‘I’m the guy with nothing to lose’, and Sanderson, CEO of Northmoor: ‘you are out of your depth and far from your jurisdiction’. But the film ultimately keeps its dignity, and you do come away with the feeling that it is very well made indeed.