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I'm a longtime contributor to MTV, Billboard, Alternative Press and MovieWeb. I've worked as on-air reporter, host, writer and producer for MTV, MSNBC and E!. I have provided opinion and commentary to programs on VH1, IFC, G4, Fuse, Current and Oxygen. I have written for Huffington Post, Premiere, OC Weekly, SFGate.com, NextMovie.com, MTV's television and movie blogs and other publications. I am the founder of Superhero Productions, providing broadcast, online and aftermarket content for a number of clients including Lionsgate, Sony and Warner Bros. I personally handle artist management for a handful of bands. "Ryan Downey has established a history of breaking some good scoops in the last few years, and you could certainly do worse than bookmark [him] to check in on." -- Ain't It Cool

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Movie Review: "Edge of Darkness"

Directed by: Martin Campbell
Starring: Mel Gibson
Three Stars

The first question to ask yourself before you plunk down any cash for "Edge of Darkness" is whether you can separate Mel Gibson -- you know, the brilliant actor from the "Mad Max" movies and "Bravheart" who was even likable in the rom-com "What Women Want" -- from that guy who got wasted and said a lot of really stupid, horrible stuff.

The good news, for me anyway, is that I can.

And sticking him alongside one of my favorite actors, gruff Brit Ray Winstone ("Sexy Beast"), doesn't hurt, either. But unfortunately, a movie that starts off with genuine emotional punch and depth slows down considerably into a slightly above average episode of "Law & Order."

You see, there's a mystery behind the death of Mel's daughter and we have to sit through several drawn out conversations to unravel it. These aren't Tarantino style dissertations -- those I like -- these are labored and unnecessarily cluttered. I can only imagine how this played out as a mini-series in its original version, because the pacing in "Edge of Darkness" is at times painfully slow.

There's some stuff in here about an evil corporation, radical environmentalism and the war on terror -- but the movie can't be bothered to treat these topics as anything more than your average thriller fodder.

The movie does best when languishing in the Gibson character's grief and bewilderment, which it does quite often through hallucinations that may be ghostly visitations and a low volume throughout the picture - save for a couple moments of "GOTCHA!" violence.

"Edge of Darkness" isn't really bad, but considering how long we've waited to see Mel get cozy with a camera that isn't being held by a real life police officer or his own DP, it just isn't up to par.

Add to that the fact that it was directed by Martin Campbell -- the man behind the virtually flawless "Casino Royale" -- remaking his own BBC miniseries and co-written by the guy who turned "Infernal Affairs" into the similarly spectacular "The Departed," and "Edge of Darkness" is all that more disappointing.

I don't hate myself for watching this flick, but I'm excited to see something better from all three men next time around. 'Cause watching Mel as an angry, repressed, old-fashioned powder keg with dark humor bursting through the seams just reminded me how great he is at all of the above. It just works better in a better movie.

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