Mel Gibson, Revenge and Redemption
Pacatte, Rose, National Catholic Reporter
Director Martin Campbell's new film, "The Edge of Darkness," is a blessing of sorts for Academy Award-winning director/writer/actor Mel Gibson. In this tense conspiracy thriller, Gibson plays Thomas Craven, a Boston police detective. On a rainy night, he welcomes his daughter home from her secretive job. Once home, Emma (Bojana Novakovic) wants to tell her father something but as they step out into the night she is blasted away by a powerful rifle before she can do so.
The Boston cops think that Thomas was the target but he turns small signs into clues and is soon carrying out his own investigation. With nothing to lose now that his daughter is dead, he vows to get the killer or killers who took away his only child.
Enter Darius Jedburgh (Ray Win-stone), an agent acting for a political and corporate nuclear arms alliance, indeed the very company where Craven's daughter had worked as an intern. Jedburgh warns Craven that he is meddling in deadly matters and recognizes Craven's ruthless intent to catch and kill his daughter's assassins. Jedburgh acknowledges that he is a mercenary, and because he is the same kind of man, is drawn to Craven's motive as a father; he comes to understand that having a family is what gives value and meaning to life.
The plot turns on the idea of what it means to be a father.
"The Edge of Darkness" is a compelling two-hour film based on a 1985 BBC television series of the same name and the same basic storyline.
Aside from its entertainment value, the film provides a study of the lead actor, Gibson, several years after the religious epic he directed, "The Passion of the Christ." One could say that Gibson as actor and director and producer has been walking on the edge of darkness for sometime. Films such as "Braveheart," "Payback," "The Patriot" and "Paparazzi" feature extreme, bloody violence and often a revenge theme.
Last year, during the promotion of "The Stoning of Soraya M.," I asked Catholic film producer Steve McEveety how he and Gibson could release "Paparazzi," a film that glorifies and legitimizes revenge, in the same year as "The Passion of the Christ." McEveety replied, "There are some things that with hindsight, one would not do." The argument that the theme of someone dying for others, or redemption, in Gibson's films is as frequent a theme as revenge, only increases confusion about the person behind his cinematic identity.
I often have difficulty with Gibson as an actor. When he gets a "Mad Max" or "Lethal Weapon" kooky glint in his eye or his actions mimic that of previous roles, I find it difficult to take him seriously. …