Edge of Darkness Blu-ray Review

All of Mel Gibson’s pent up anger at misguided life choices is put on display in Edge of Darkness, a theatrical adaptation of the 1985 BBC miniseries as much an audition for Mel’s future as anything else.

Director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, The Green Lantern) has publicly stated Mel was the only man capable of pulling off the role of a loner Boston police detective whose only daughter is killed in cold blood on his doorstep. Martin would know since he directed the original miniseries. Liam Neeson may have convincingly chased kidnappers in Taken, but he had someone and something to live for. The death of a child or loved one and the mental anguish that brings about is no foreign territory for the man behind Mad Max and Martin Riggs. The lines of deep wrinkles scarring Mel’s face unintentionally reinforce this idea.

Edge of Darkness unravels the type of multilayered corporate and government conspiracy that was featured prominently in the 1970s and 80s. The dark and overwhelmingly depressing script does little to hide a succession of secrets before they are uncovered. Campbell’s casual unforced direction in intimate and action-oriented moments, and superb performances by not only Mel but the supporting cast override bouts of predictability to make the journey towards a far-fetched finale more fun than arriving there.

Danny Huston is superbly slimy as the greedy corporate villain with an artificial glaze on his face like a freshly baked Krispy Kreme donut. His security practices and choice of minimal guards is questionable, but his ruthlessness and disregard for the importance of family are the spawn of pure evil and perfect target for Mel to direct his thirst for vengeance.

Though Mel is great in switching his emotions from grief to revenge to sympathetic at a moment’s notice, the real standout, or is that unusual performance, goes to Ray Winstone as a sort of mysterious hit man whose complicated job it is to ensure no one can connect the dots from point A to B in a conspiracy. His character is fearsome yet subtly expresses vulnerability to Mel’s mourning through his actions and sharp, witty dialogue.

High-Def Presentation

Warner’s Edge of Darkess Blu-ray transfer looks pretty darn good mirroring the narrative’s dark thematics with subdued color choices (accentuating earthy hues and shadows), a thin layer of grain and detail apparent in close-ups where you notice crags in Gibson’s face. Lacking print damage or obvious evidence of digital “clean-up” techniques, the only technical deficits are some crushed blacks and grain spikes in darker shots but considering the purposely murky palette employed, I can’t say that this wasn’t inherent in the source material. You won’t be wow’d by a 3D like eye popping spectical and this was never the intention. Edge’s 1080p transfer may seem flat in comparison to modern HD eye candy but is impressively faithful to the director/cinematographer’s intentions where the high-def visuals support the emotional impact of Thomas Craven’s story without stealing its thunder.

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track doesn’t deliver powerhouse audio throughout but does kick in when needed for sporadic moments of violence. I had to slightly boost the center channel to make the dialog (on which the movie is surprisingly dependent) not get lost in the front heavy mix with rears reserved for Howard Shore’s emotionally evocative score and subtlety panning ambient effects such as passing cars or rain. Much like the HD video, this is very functional but rarely showy lossless audio that does its job not expecting to draw your attention except when needed.

Beyond the Feature

I won’t argue that Edge of Darkness deserves a “mega super special edition” but was expecting a bit more than the meager extras we receive. Supplements consist of Deleted and Alternate Scenes (5:23, HD) and Focus Points which are featurettes that admittedly cover a wide range of subjects: Revisiting Edge of Darkness mini-series (2:32), Adapting the Edge of Darkness mini-series (3:32), Thomas Craven’s War of Attrition (4:51), Making a Ghost Character Real (3:32), Scoring the Edge of Darkness (3:29), Mel’s Back (4:00), Director Profile: Martin Campbell (3:21), Boston as a Character (2:57) and Edge of Your Seat (2:36).

The outtake scenes are interesting for seeing how familiar dialog plays out in a different context but add little to your understanding of the flick. To look at the Focus Points in a beneficial light, they are collectively a step or so above your average promo fluff and do hit interesting high level points about adapting the original mini-series (including what was carried over versus changed) and Mel returning to acting after a seven year absence with input from the lead actors, director, screenwriter, producer and composer. I wish they were more cohesive and dug deeper into the production but are worth the 30 minutes it takes to watch (thankfully with a ‘Play All’ option).

BD-Live access is also included, and a second disc consists of a DVD version of the movie and digital copy (expires May 9, 2011) for both PC and Mac.

Grizzled-old Mel Gibson with a wonky Boston accent carries Edge of Darkness on his shoulders. It really does not matter if the personal demons affecting his own life permeated into his character’s grief or not. Mel has played this desperate and despondent role to perfection before, and a nearly decade-long hiatus shows nary a speck of rust in his vigilant comeback performance. It’s worth checking out to experience an unexpected “jump” scene below, and perhaps Warner will come back someday and beef up the supplements a little bit.

– Robert Searle and Dan Bradley

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