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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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Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang and Companions: This first native Korean priest was the son of Korean converts. His father, Ignatius Kim, was martyred during the persecution of 1839 and was beatified in 1925. After Baptism at the age of 15, Andrew traveled 1,300 miles to the seminary in Macao, China. After six years he managed to return to his country through Manchuria. That same year he crossed the Yellow Sea to Shanghai and was ordained a priest. Back home again, he was assigned to arrange for more missionaries to enter by a water route that would elude the border patrol. He was arrested, tortured and finally beheaded at the Han River near Seoul, the capital. Paul Chong Hasang was a lay apostle and married man, aged 45. 
<p>Christianity came to Korea during the Japanese invasion in 1592 when some Koreans were baptized, probably by Christian Japanese soldiers. Evangelization was difficult because Korea refused all contact with the outside world except for bringing taxes to Beijing annually. On one of these occasions, around 1777, Christian literature obtained from Jesuits in China led educated Korean Christians to study. A home Church began. When a Chinese priest managed to enter secretly a dozen years later, he found 4,000 Catholics, none of whom had ever seen a priest. Seven years later there were 10,000 Catholics. Religious freedom came in 1883. </p><p>When Pope John Paul II visited Korea in 1984 he canonized, besides Andrew and Paul, 98 Koreans and three French missionaries who had been martyred between 1839 and 1867. Among them were bishops and priests, but for the most part they were lay persons: 47 women, 45 men. </p><p>Among the martyrs in 1839 was Columba Kim, an unmarried woman of 26. She was put in prison, pierced with hot tools and seared with burning coals. She and her sister Agnes were disrobed and kept for two days in a cell with condemned criminals, but were not molested. After Columba complained about the indignity, no more women were subjected to it. The two were beheaded. A boy of 13, Peter Ryou, had his flesh so badly torn that he could pull off pieces and throw them at the judges. He was killed by strangulation. Protase Chong, a 41-year-old noble, apostatized under torture and was freed. Later he came back, confessed his faith and was tortured to death. </p><p>Today, there are almost 5.1 million Catholics in Korea.</p> American Catholic Blog We never think of connecting violence with our tongues. But the first weapon, the most cruel weapon, is the tongue. Examine what part your tongue has played in creating peace or violence. We can really wound a person, we can kill a person, with our tongue.

 
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