Friday, February 25, 2011

Day 56: Edge of Darkness (2010)

R, 1 hr. 48 min. Directed by: Martin Campbell. Release Date: January 29, 2010. DVD Release Date: May 11, 2010.

I'm not sure if Mel Gibson has First Amendment rights to exercise, because I'm not sure of his citizenship, but regardless of how we feel about his use and abuse of those rights (I'm currently looking for my dislike button on the issue), I think most of us can admit that he makes one HELL of a movie, in general terms. He transcended seamlessly, as has Clint Eastwood, from actor to director; and I like him better behind the camera than in front of it. I have to admit that I haven't seen The Passion of the Christ, and probably won't. I'm just not that interested. But his pictures like Apocalypto and Braveheart were, in their own ways, game changers for me. They made me revision the way I looked at their particular genre and to an extent, I measure my much-loved historical epics against these two fine films. 

One of the misconceptions, even by Americans, much less transplanted Australians, regarding the First Amendment is that it's blanket coverage to say whatever thing that floats in to your head without censorship. That's not entirely true. What the First Amendment guarantees is that, with only a few exceptions, the government won't censor you. There's plenty within the language of the First Amendment that says your fellow citizens can revile you and censor you in any way they feel appropriate if your speech is not in keeping with the moral standards of the community. Find enough citizens who consider your speech "fighting words" and you can lose your protection under the First Amendment. Don't believe me? Ask the Dixie Chicks and what happened in 2001 when they exercised their rights regarding then-President Bush. The lady trio is still attempting to dig their career out of its self-dug grave and most of us now say worse things about their target than they ever did. Because I disagree with many of the things that have gotten Gibson in hot water lately, I refuse to watch Mel Gibson's films in the theaters. I won't buy a movie he's in or one that he directs on DVD. I've compromised with using Netflix to see his work because I suspect he makes little profit from this, and it's like being a vegetarian to save the animals: one person doing it doesn't help. Millions might, but my efforts alone make no difference… which is an excuse, and a lame one at that, but I really wanted to see this movie, so I'm making it.

While I think that Edge of Darkness is far from Gibson's best work (as either director or actor) it is a fine thriller, although it does tend to suffer from an overly complex story line, particularly as everything unravels. Gibson does a good job portraying the role of this father grieving after his daughter's passing, but a large part of the supporting cast felt a little flat to me. I don't want to say they were phoning in their roles because no matter how well they did the camera was going to pay more attention to Mel Gibson, but it did come off that way to me.

There were also a few oddities that I found distracting. (1) The Southy accent. It came and went, and got thicker under stress, which I thought only happened when you were speaking a language other than your native one… (2) Ginger ale. Seriously? People still drink that stuff? I guess it's no more random than my Coke fascination, but even I occasionally ask for water or a beer. (3) This gets flagged for its excessive use (and abuse) of the F-bomb. I'm totally not sensitive to it, but occasionally so many people were using it in a lot of different ways at the same time. It made for less-than-pretty dialogue from time to time.