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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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John Paul II: “Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978. <br /><br />Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. <br /><br />Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin. <br /><br />Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong! <br /><br />He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its <em>Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World</em>. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later. <br /><br />Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations. <br /><br />He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria. <br /><br />The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope. <br /><br />“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, <em>Redeemer of the Human Race</em>. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.” <br /><br />His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that. <br /><br />One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier. <br /><br />In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. <br /><br />In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities. <br /><br />Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014. American Catholic Blog Lord, may I have balance and measure in everything—except in Love. —St. Josemaría Escrivá

 
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