Three Stars – Powerful
Martin Campbell’s remake of the acclaimed British television series by Troy Kennedy Martin is dynamic. Removing many of the original environmental and new age elements, Campbell turns “Edge of Darkness” into a tale of a greedy and perhaps insane corporate magnate whose company is complicit with the CIA in illegal and immoral activities.
Where the film is dramatically different from Troy Martin’s TV series is in its spiritual world view. Although the cast and crew did not allow it, Troy Martin wanted to have his leading character turn into a tree at his death, consistent with his belief in Gaia of New Age theology. In Martin Campbell’s remake, the leading character is joined by his deceased daughter who returns at the moment of his death to walk with him into the light of life after life.
However, the plot is the same: a policeman’s daughter is murdered on the steps of his home. The location has moved from Yorkshire, England to Boston, Massachusetts, but the angst is identical. Detective Thomas Craven (Mel Gibson) loves his only daughter Emma (Bojana Novakoc). Although their relationship is troubled for reasons not explained in the film, Emma’s unexpected visit ends quickly and violently. It is then that the journey to discover the cause of her death begins.
The evil corporate magnate is Jack Bennett (Danny Huston). But the ironic character of professional killer Capt. Jedburgh (Ray Winstone) is the key to the tale. Jedburgh is a private contractor the CIA uses to keep the police from being able to uncover the truth about its clandestine operations. In this instance, Bennett is the CEO of a company that is creating nuclear weapons from foreign material which, when used, can be blamed on terrorists. As a graduate of MIT and new employee of Bennett’s firm, Emma discovers this truth and decides to expose them.
What makes the film powerful is the angst with which Craven attempts to avenge his daughter’s death. Alone in the world and nearing the end of his career as a policeman, Craven has the skill and the drive to pursue his goal. His vengeance joins the lawlessness of the conspirators and the film follows a violent trail to its conclusion.
Although the film has a Christian worldview, what is obviously lacking is any faith community in Craven’s life. When his daughter is killed he has no one to celebrate her life and in isolated pain he pours her cremated remains on the beach they shared in her childhood. This void of shared life with those who follow the grace and forgiveness of God, leaves Craven to his grief and pain, driving him to vengeance. It is a solution that fits his simple beliefs and resolves his anger, but it is not a solution to heal his soul. That must be found in his love for his daughter and in the light they enter at his death.
Discussion for those who have seen this film:
1. Since the film does not explain Craven’s relationship with his daughter, except through old movies and a comment from his daughter’s boy friend, what kind of relationship do you think they had? Why do you answer as you do?
2. The betrayal by Craven’s fellow detective is predictable because of the way he is presented in the film. Do you see this as a weakness of the film or a helpful precursor?
3. If your daughter was killed by an assassin and you had the skills to exact vengeance, would you? What would you have to become in order to do so? Do you accept Craven’s simple creed?