Director: Martin Campbell Release Date: 29/01/10 Link: IMDB If you’ve looked at the side of a milk carton lately, there’s a good chance you’ve probably seen the acting career of Mel Gibson in the “missing” section. It might be hard to believe, but the last time the 54-year-old actor stepped in front of the camera in a leading role was in 2002 as a conflicted single father and priest in the alien invasion tale Signs. Since that time, however, it’s not like Gibson has been out of the public spotlight. He has still been involved with films, having directed the financially successful but controversial The Passion of the Christ and the blood-filled Apocalypto, but I’m guessing that’s not the first thing you think of when looking at his recent past. That thing, of course, would be his highly publicized DUI arrest in 2006 and the subsequent drunken anti-Semitic remarks he made to the arresting officer. You can love him or hate him, but it’s my honest opinion that we go to the movies to be entertained, and an actor or filmmaker’s actions and personal views shouldn’t prevent you from being able to appreciate what’s projected up on the screen. For some that is much easier said than done, and I know there are plenty of people out there who will never be able to forgive Gibson for the derogatory and obscene words he reportedly said that night and boycott his films in protest. But there are also just as many viewers who are willing to give Gibson another chance, so it’s extremely essential that he selects the right kind of movie and character for his much-awaited “comeback.” Well, I think he did just that with director Martin Campbell’s emotionally charged and violent thriller Edge of Darkness. Gibson has made quite a living portraying martyrs, cops and damaged heroes fighting for justice (“Braveheart,” the “Lethal Weapon” series, “Ransom” and “The Patriot”), so it only seems logical that he would be perfect for the role of Thomas Craven, a veteran Boston police detective who looks for revenge when his 24-year-old daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic) is gunned downed on his front doorstep. Sporting a thick Bah-ston accent and a beige trench coat, Gibson looks like he never skipped a beat while playing the bereaved single father who has the rug pulled out from under his feet. Gibson is so convincing that you can see the pain in his eyes and feel his sense of urgency as he tries to find the identities of the masked men who blasted his daughter away in a gruesome fashion. The police believe Thomas was the intended target because of his line of work, but as he uncovers more and more clues, it becomes evident he really didn’t know too much about his only child, who was living a secret life. Apparently she worked at Northmoor, a privately owned energy facility with government ties that is run by the shady-acting Jack Bennett (Danny Huston in a disturbingly creepy performance). Bennett isn’t much help in revealing Northmoor’s secrets (“classified” is seemingly his favorite word), so it’s up to Craven to find the answers all on his own, even if it means butting heads with Darius Jedburgh (Ray Winstone), a government operative who is tasked with getting rid of evidence and preventing people from being able to connect points A and B. Those scenes that Gibson and Winstone share are dripping with tension, much like the film’s entire setup, which is easily the most rousing part of “Edge of Darkness.” Campbell (“Casino Royale,” “GoldenEye” and “The Mask of Zorro”), working from a script by William Monahan (“The Departed”) and Andrew Bovell (“Latana”), knows exactly how to build suspense and he never bogs the film down with gimmicky visual tricks. (The opening moonlit scene sets the mood for the entire movie flawlessly and there was one instance when I jumped out of my seat so high that I thought I was going to hit my head on the ceiling.) Be that as it may, “Edge of Darkness” loses a little bit of it nail-biting potency about midway through when the narrative starts to unravel. The mystery behind the movie is definitely plausible, but themes of corporate cover-ups and government collusion are nothing new to motion pictures, and the film’s resolution doesn’t really do anything to distinguish itself from the rest of the pack. But that quarrel could be the direct result of “Edge of Darkness” being adapted from Campbell’s 1985 award-winning miniseries that played off the public’s fears of the Cold War and nuclear annihilation. The material in the movie was obviously updated for today’s audiences, but that still doesn’t change the fact that the story would have resonated better with audiences if it had been presented on the silver screen over two decades ago. Nonetheless, “Edge of Darkness” resuscitates its pulse and transforms into a provocative and bloody revenge flick as soon as Craven figures out who was responsible for his daughter’s brutal slaying. Much like Liam Neeson in last year’s “Taken,” Craven doesn‘t care what he has to do to find redemption and he frequently uses his professional skills to make sure all of his adversaries go home in body bags. (“I’m not going to arrest anyone,” he promises.) Overall “Edge of Darkness” is frequently entertaining and worth seeing in theaters, but the whole project really hinged on Gibson’s performance, and those who have waited for years to see his return shouldn’t walk away disgruntled. Gibson is the kind of actor who is tremendously effective at playing an angry person with pent-up rage and making it look legitimate, and since Craven often teeters on the brink of insanity, I couldn’t have picked a more deserving actor to fit the part. You truly don’t know what Craven will do next and I really can’t think of too many other actors who would be able to pull this complex character off. It’s good to have you back, Mel. Rating: 7/10