Having done his penance in movie-star jail (as they say on Entourage), Mel Gibson comes back, doing what he does best: getting down, dirty and vengeful.
It's been more than seven years since Gibson starred in a film and, like some of his fellow action icons from the 80s, he's no longer the hunky young brawler. But he hasn't lost his punch - and he has a relatively worthy vehicle with Edge of Darkness, based on a British mini-series of the 1980s.
He's also got a group of pros surrounding him, beginning with journeyman director Martin Campbell (who directed the original) and writer William Monahan (The Departed). They put together a solid, gritty revenge story of a father looking for payback after the murder of his daughter.
The father is Boston cop Tom Craven (Gibson), a widower whose only daughter comes home for a visit for the first time in a while. She's got a job somewhere in Massachusetts, far enough away that she has to take the train home (though close enough that Craven can drive there without too much trouble).
But daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic) is obviously not well. She's vomiting at unexpected moments (though she claims not to be pregnant) and, finally, admits that there's something she has to tell dear old dad as he starts to drag her out of the house to the emergency room. But as they walk out the front door, someone shouts "Craven!" and unleashes a shotgun blast that blows her back into the house.
Initially convinced that Tom was the target and Emma the unintended victim, Craven starts investigating, even as he tries to piece together the life about which his daughter has been so secretive. She's been working at a government -funded research lab and is saddled with secrecy vows - but he slowly begins to assemble a picture of what she's been into and who might have wanted her - not him - dead.
Edge of Darkness isn't a great film, but it's crisply efficient one that's almost always engrossing, thanks to the murder in Mel's heart and the cool command of the film's most mysterious figure: Jedburgh, played with teasingly controlled menace by Ray Winstone. He's a fixer, but for who and fixing what? Winstone draws us in and keeps us guessing, even as the script unfortunately gives away a bit too much about his shifting loyalties and motivation.