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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Edge of Darkness

By
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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Louis of France: At his coronation as king of France, Louis IX bound himself by oath to behave as God’s anointed, as the father of his people and feudal lord of the King of Peace. Other kings had done the same, of course. Louis was different in that he actually interpreted his kingly duties in the light of faith. After the violence of two previous reigns, he brought peace and justice. 
<p>He was crowned king at 12, at his father’s death. His mother, Blanche of Castile, ruled during his minority. When he was 19 and his bride 12, he was married to Marguerite of Provence. It was a loving marriage, though not without challenge. They had 11 children. </p><p>Louis “took the cross” for a Crusade when he was 30. His army seized Damietta ini Egypt but not long after, weakened by dysentery and without support, they were surrounded and captured. Louis obtained the release of the army by giving up the city of Damietta in addition to paying a ransom. He stayed in Syria four years. </p><p>He deserves credit for extending justice in civil administration. His regulations for royal officials became the first of a series of reform laws. He replaced trial by battle with a form of examination of witnesses and encouraged the use of written records in court. </p><p>Louis was always respectful of the papacy, but defended royal interests against the popes and refused to acknowledge Innocent IV’s sentence against Emperor Frederick II. </p><p>Louis was devoted to his people, founding hospitals, visiting the sick and, like his patron St. Francis (October 4), caring even for people with leprosy. (He is one of the patrons of the Secular Franciscan Order.) Louis united France—lords and townsfolk, peasants and priests and knights—by the force of his personality and holiness. For many years the nation was at peace. </p><p>Every day Louis had 13 special guests from among the poor to eat with him, and a large number of poor were served meals near his palace. During Advent and Lent, all who presented themselves were given a meal, and Louis often served them in person. He kept lists of needy people, whom he regularly relieved, in every province of his dominion. </p><p>Disturbed by new Muslim advances in Syria, he led another crusade in 1267, at the age of 41. His crusade was diverted to Tunis for his brother’s sake. The army was decimated by disease within a month, and Louis himself died on foreign soil at the age of 44. He was canonized 27 years later.</p> American Catholic Blog God passes through the thicket of the world, and wherever His glance falls He turns all things to beauty. <br />–St. John of the Cross

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