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Edge of Darkness is Mel Gibson's first starring role since "Signs" (2002).

'Edge of Darkness' has many loose ends

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Actor comebacks can sometimes be a bigger story than the movie they're in. We saw that with Demi Moore when she played the villain in "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle," and we might be swerving into the same territory with Mel Gibson in "Edge of Darkness."

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Don't get me wrong... Demi Moore looks much better in a bikini than Mel Gibson does (at least at his age), and that's not to say that "Edge of Darkness" isn't enjoyable to some degree. However, Gibson has done much better films in the past, and this won't be remembered much beyond the news stories about it being his first starring role since "Signs."

"Edge of Darkness" follows Craven (Gibson), a Boston police detective whose only daughter is murdered on his doorstep after she returns home for a visit. The entire police force seems to think that he was the intended target, but as Craven digs in to the case, he discovers a greater conspiracy and much darker motivations.

There are moments of full-fledged awesomeness in the movie, much in the spirit of movies like "Taken," featuring a dad on the rampage. For this, Gibson is perfect. He's always had his biggest successes as a slightly unstable man willing to stop at nothing. When Gibson is hunting his daughter's killers, this movie is brilliant. And, as a parent, I can fully relate to the rage.

The rest of the film, however, is a bit murky. Part of this is because, all heavy-handed Boston accents aside, it becomes a serious mumblefest for the actors. Whether it's Gibson in his grief, Jay O. Saunders as his detective buddy trying to help out with the case or Ray Winstone as the inside man who is the connection to the truth, everyone seems to be delivering their lines with marbles in their mouths.

It is because of this messy dialogue delivery that the story really becomes unraveled at some points. It's hard to understand the nuances of the political skullduggery when you can't understand half of what is being said. I might have a better time with this movie when I can watch it on DVD or Blu-ray and turn the subtitles on.

The underlying conspiracy is nothing new, and it is in fact a bit of a tired concept. There's not a lot of originality behind the story, falling back on plot devices that would be more era-appropriate to Gibson's earlier work in the mid 1980s. The plot is also achingly predictable, and most people should be able to figure out what's going on before the first act is over.

Still, amid the foreseeable twists and overused plot points, I had a lot of fun watching Mel Gibson kick ass. And director Martin Campbell took his time with this, which is really the only fresh aspect to the film. Unlike the aforementioned "Taken," "Edge of Darkness" is a slow burn on Gibson's character. He doesn't hit a non-stop pace, and he actually builds a case before things really go down.

Still, I can't say I bought how everything fit together. It's a decent movie, but it has a lot of unnecessary loose ends.

***

Movie and DVD reviewer Kevin Carr is an independent writer, journalist and filmmaker who lives in Columbus, Ohio.

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