Every now and again my best friend, when the wife gives him time off, manages to drag me along to a current movie for a boys’ afternoon out. This is solely on the basis that he pays (I buy the ice creams) because the last movies I stumbled on that were worth the price of admission… thinking… must have been the re-releases of Gone With the Wind, Vertigo, Casablanca and The Big Sleep. Of modern films, those Johnny Depp ones From Hell, Sleepy Hollow, and the one where he plays James Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, came closest, at least showing some style and a good sense of film craft.
The original Edge of Darkness (Warner Bros, 1943) was a World War II ‘Nazi resistance’ movie set in Norway, directed by admired auteur Lewis Milestone (of All Quiet on the Western Front, 1930). Mood music was by another Hollywood legend, Franz Waxman. It starred the highly attractive pairing Errol Flynn and Ann Sheridan, with superlative actors Walter Huston, Dame Judith Anderson and Ruth Gordon making it an ensemble effort. Anything even approaching this quality was obviously too much to hope for.I don’t know what I was expecting from this cop-revenge movie starring Mel Gibson — maybe an unrelenting, gritty film of the old realistic school, with any luck some noir elements thrown in. Instead, after Mel’s daughter is hideously blown away before our (and his) eyes he spends the rest of the film seeing her, hearing her — and talking back to her. Now, Mel shows about the same level of spiritual sensitivity as Dirty Harry, but to update him for a New Age interpretation that supernatural gimmick that you see on every second tv series these days is introduced: a “living”, walking and talking ghost taking part as a character. What can I say?
Some redeeming features include English actor Ray Winstone with an indecisive, wavering accent. But this is a plus since the rest of the cast is lumbered with Boston accents — a little too upper crust to be gritty.
At the end, Mel walks off arm-in-arm with his daughter, expecting the audience to swallow this sugar-coated ‘happy’ Disney-Hallmark ending after several outpourings of sickening bloodshed through the film — as they die happily ever after.