Edge of Darkness (UK - BD)
Chris Gould takes a look at the recent conspiracy thriller starring Mel Gibson...
Edge of Darkness stars Mel Gibson as Thomas Craven, a veteran homicide detective of the Boston Police Department and single father to twenty-four year old Emma (Bojana Novakovic). When his daughter returns home for a visit she unexpectedly falls ill, but as he prepares to take her to the hospital she is gunned down by an unknown assailant and dies in his arms. Due to his hazardous occupation everyone naturally assumes that Craven was the intended target and that Emma was simply collateral damage, but after some investigation Craven begins to suspect otherwise. His enquiries lead him deep into the dangerous world of corporate corruption and government cover-ups. Eventually Craven's search for his daughter's killer brings him into contact with Darius Jedburgh (Ray Winstone), a CIA operative who has been sent in to contain the situation at any cost.
Edge of Darkness is based on 1985's popular six-part BBC television drama of the same name. I never saw the BBC series (I was only ten at the time), but from what I understand this adaptation retains the core of the story while updating the setting and events to reflect contemporary issues. I actually went to see the film when it was released theatrically, and although I’m not a huge ‘Mad’ Mel fan I actually found it quite enjoyable. It featured strong performances throughout, especially from Gibson, who gave a very convincing turn as the grieving father hell bent on bring his daughter's killers to justice, while Danny Houston provided another typically slimy performance as the head of the nefarious corporation. While I would have liked to have seen first choice Robert De Niro in the role, Ray Winstone didn’t do a bad job with the hard-nosed Jedburgh either. My opinion of the film hasn’t really changed with this second viewing on Blu-ray, which is to say that Edge of Darkness is a solid film that should please fans of the genre, even if it probably won’t be remembered as a classic. Although the events play out in a fairly predictable manner the journey is definitely worth taking, especially if you're a thriller enthusiast or a Gibson fan.
Edge of Darkness arrives on Blu-ray with a 2.40:1 widescreen transfer (1080/24p AVC) that looks pretty damn impressive for the most part. Although the film is not as flashy as something fantastical like Avatar, the transfer does a wonderful job of recreating the real-world environments. The colour palette is generally very naturalistic, albeit ever so slightly muted, with lifelike skin tones. The daytime exteriors are particularly impressive, but even the darker interiors are pleasing, although blacks can sometimes get a little crushed. Even so, contrast is generally very strong. Fine details such as facial pores and fabric are rendered with clarity, and what little softness there is would appear to be an intentional stylistic choice. From what I could tell the image is virtually artefact free (both digital and analogue), and it looks extremely 'film-like' thanks to a fine, unobtrusive layer of grain. All-in-all this a very good transfer.
The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack impressed me from the outset, with some excellent use of ambient effects during the scene in which Thomas meets Emma at the station. Rain falls all around the listening position, really putting you in the middle of the downpour, while cars travel discretely around the soundstage as they drive along. The shooting also comes as a bit of a surprise thanks to some effective stings from the rears that almost made me jump out of my seat. Other good examples of effective use of the discrete channels come during a high-speed pursuit and the hit-and-run (bit of a spoiler there). Dialogue is generally clear, if a little quieter than some releases, and while bass is not particularly aggressive it has some solid moments. While Howard Shore's score is a fitting accompaniment to the on-screen action it isn't one of his more memorable efforts, but it's generally mixed well with the other elements. As with the video the audio is very competent, if not quite up there with the best.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention that the disc also includes a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack in English, just in case you feel the need to compare the lossless formats.
Icon has assembled a modest collection of bonus material for their release of Edge of Darkness, details of which can be found below. It should be noted that the UK release lacks the bonus DVD and Digital Copy that come with the US version, and the publicised commentary by Martin Campbell has not materialised.
Focus Points: When you click play you are presented with the option of watching the feature with additional branching Focus Points. Among other things, they ‘focus’ on the original Edge of Darkness miniseries, Mel Gibson’s return to acting and director Martin Campbell. Initially I was worried that this feature wasn’t working, as when I pressed enter on my remote nothing happened and the menus disappeared, but pressing enter again kicked things off. It’s a bit of an oddity and something to watch out for.
Deleted Scenes (05:18 HD): First up with have five brief deleted scenes, which consist of some alternate scenes featuring for Jedburgh and a couple of additional scenes where Craven remembers his daughter and goes after Huston's character. The Jedburgh stuff is actually quite good, but the rest is pretty forgettable.
Featurettes (30:39 HD): Nine featurettes follow, each focussing on a different aspect of the production. Unfortunately these featurettes are actually the Focus Points masquerading as additional content, although it is actually easier to watch them like this than to interrupt the film all the time. Anyway, the complete list is as follows: Revisiting the Edge of Darkness Mini-Series; Mel’s Back; Director Profile: Martin Campbell; Thomas Craven’s War of Attrition; Making a Ghost Character Real; Scoring The Edge of Darkness; Adapting The Edge of Darkness Mini-Series; Boston As a Character; Edge of Your Seat.
First Look Footage (10:34 SD): This is one of those made-for-TV featurettes that includes plenty of footage from the feature accompanied by talking heads and voice-over. This wasn't present on the US disc, but I have sneaky a feeling that it was made specifically for the British market (but don't quote me on that). In any event it provides a decent overview of the plot, but if you've seen the film it's slightly redundant.
If you're looking for a solid conspiracy thriller you could certainly do a lot worse than Edge of Darkness. The film doesn't break any new ground, but it's nice to see Gibson doing what he does best and this second viewing on Blu-ray only served to reinforce my positive opinion. Technically Icon has delivered a solid Blu-ray experience with pleasing visuals and decent audio, although I have to confess with being slightly underwhelmed by the bonus content. Even so, Edge of Darkness gets a thumbs up from me.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Chris Gould
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 14th June 2010
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English
Extras: Deleted Scenes, Featurettes
Easter Egg: No
Director: Martin Campbell
Cast: Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Bojana Novakovic, Jay O. Sanders
Length: 116 minutes
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