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Edge of Darkness

John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

In 1985, BBC television aired director Martin Campbell's miniseries "Edge of Darkness," a thriller about intrigue in the nuclear energy industry.

With Cold War tensions mounting at the time, the program achieved both popularity and critical acclaim, receiving six British Academy of Film and Television awards and being ranked 15th on the British Film Institute's Top 100 Television list.

Now Campbell brings an Americanized version of his stark tale of loss and corruption to the big screen as the feature-length drama "Edge of Darkness" (Warner Bros.) starring Mel Gibson.

In his first leading role in seven years, Gibson plays Boston police detective Thomas Craven. A widower given to old-fashioned ways, Craven is an isolated figure whose only real emotional bond is with his adult daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic).

So when Emma is brutally shot dead shortly after arriving at her father's house for a visit—and before she can explain the nature of the illness that was causing her bouts of severe nausea—Craven is both emotionally devastated and reluctant to accept the theory that the bullets were meant for him.

Though Craven—whose Irish-American, and presumably Catholic, extraction is strongly signaled by Gibson's credible shot at a "Southie" accent—utters a fervent but ultimately stifled prayer as he cradles Emma's body moments after the attack, we later see him scattering her ashes in the ocean, a practice discouraged by the church as discordant with Gospel teaching on the resurrection of the body.

Launching a personal investigation, Craven gradually discovers some unsettling details about Emma's secretive work for Northmoor, a government contractor engaged in clandestine atomic research.

Predictably, Northmoor CEO Jack Bennett (Danny Huston) proves dissatisfyingly taciturn, while Emma's boyfriend and co-worker Daniel Burnham (Shawn Roberts) is too terrified to give Craven more than a few clues.

Some of Craven's best leads come from Darius Jedburgh (Ray Winstone), a shadowy, elegantly jaded fixer whose loyalties are thoroughly ambiguous.

William Monahan and Andrew Bovell's script—the miniseries was penned by Troy Kennedy Martin—provides a reasonably absorbing but gritty narrative that includes incidents of shocking violence. Thus, in addition to the gore that attends Emma's killing, one of Craven's informants is assaulted in a sudden, graphic, and thoroughly jarring manner.

As Craven closes in on those responsible for Emma's death, the film also skirts the dark edges of vigilantism, though the extreme circumstances and the far reach of the conspiracy Craven uncovers at least partly justify his go-it-alone approach to exacting redress.

The film contains complex moral issues, considerable and sometimes bloody violence, an implied premarital relationship, a few uses of profanity and much rough and some crude language. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

John Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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Charles de Foucauld: Born into an aristocratic family in Strasbourg, France, Charles was orphaned at the age of six, raised by his devout grandfather, rejected the Catholic faith as a teenager and joined the French army. Inheriting a great deal of money from his grandfather, Charles went to Algeria with his regiment, but not without his mistress, Mimi. <br /><br />When he declined to give her up, he was dismissed from the army. Still in Algeria when he left Mimi, Charles reenlisted in the army. Refused permission to make a scientific exploration of nearby Morocco, he resigned from the service. With the help of a Jewish rabbi, Charles disguised himself as a Jew and in 1883 began a one-year exploration that he recorded in a book that was well received. <br /><br />Inspired by the Jews and Muslims whom he met, Charles resumed the practice of his Catholic faith when he returned to France in 1886. He joined a Trappist monastery in Ardeche, France, and later transferred to one in Akbes, Syria. Leaving the monastery in 1897, Charles worked as gardener and sacristan for the Poor Clare nuns in Nazareth and later in Jerusalem. In 1901 he returned to France and was ordained a priest. <br /><br />Later that year Charles journeyed to Beni-Abbes, Morocco, intending to found a monastic religious community in North Africa that offered hospitality to Christians, Muslims, Jews, or people with no religion. He lived a peaceful, hidden life but attracted no companions. <br /><br />A former army comrade invited him to live among the Tuareg people in Algeria. Charles learned their language enough to write a Tuareg-French and French-Tuareg dictionary, and to translate the Gospels into Tuareg. In 1905 he came to Tamanrasset, where he lived the rest of his life. A two-volume collection of Charles' Tuareg poetry was published after his death. <br /><br />In early 1909 he visited France and established an association of laypeople who pledged to live by the Gospels. His return to Tamanrasset was welcomed by the Tuareg. In 1915 Charles wrote to Louis Massignon: “The love of God, the love for one’s neighbor…All religion is found there…How to get to that point? Not in a day since it is perfection itself: it is the goal we must always aim for, which we must unceasingly try to reach and that we will only attain in heaven.”   <br /><br />The outbreak of World War I led to attacks on the French in Algeria. Seized in a raid by another tribe, Charles and two French soldiers coming to visit him were shot to death on December 1, 1916. <br />Five religious congregations, associations, and spiritual institutes (Little Brothers of Jesus, Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Little Sisters of Jesus, Little Brothers of the Gospel and Little Sisters of the Gospel) draw inspiration from the peaceful, largely hidden, yet hospitable life that characterized Charles. He was beatified on November 13, 2005. American Catholic Blog You know, O my God, I have never desired anything but to love you, and I am ambitious for no other glory.


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