Mel Gibson goes to “Edge of Darkness,” now on DVD and Blu-ray

By Sean O’Connell stays on top of the latest DVD and Blu-ray releases so you know which films are worth your time and money. This week, we review:

Edge of Darkness (Blu-ray)
No, “Edge of Darkness” does not describe Mel Gibson’s location as he fends off swirling rumors about infidelity. Instead, it’s a comeback-project of sorts, a return to acting after Gibson spent consecutive years in the director’s chair helming “The Passion of the Christ” and “Apocalypto.”

The good news? Gibson didn’t forget how to play a bloodthirsty, vengeful bad ass during his self-imposed, seven-year acting hiatus. That inner pool of feral rage and icy intensity Gibson routinely dips into has more than enough liquid left for one last dunk, even if it’s in service of a role Gibson has explored countless times before.

In Edge,” Gibson plays Thomas Craven, a Boston (more accurately, “Bah-stahn”) police detective who stands hopelessly by as his only daughter, Emma (Bojana Novakovic), is gunned down on the family’s front porch. Craven assumes he was the intended target until he starts investigating Emma’s employer – a shadowy weapons manufacturer protected by an unnervingly overprotective head honcho (Danny Huston, excellent though typecast).

There’s no denying Gibson has aged. Alcoholism, smoking (he recently quit after four decades of puffing) and his highly publicized meltdown – and subsequent fallout – have placed noticeable tread on his instantly recognizable features. You can play a rousing game of “Spot the Stunt Double” during most of the fight sequences in “Darkness,” of which there are several.

But “Darkness” isn’t as streamlined as the similar Liam Neeson vehicle “Taken,” and it suffers from its attempts at misdirection. The great Ray Winstone, who rescues select scenes by playing a cool government spook who might be on Gibson’s side, sums it up best. He’s explaining why police investigations like these are never solved; there’s “too much artwork.” Our eyes are diverted to this color, this design flourish, this intended meaning … but we’re distracted from the ultimate point. “Darkness” entertains at a basic level. Gibson does “wounded” better than his action-thriller contemporaries, and we stick with the plot twists in hopes of a meaty payoff. But when all is said and done, the screenplay – an adaptation of a British mini-series – ends up being more convoluted than was necessary.

“Darkness” is a dark film, and the conversion on Warner’s new Blu-ray reflects that. Scenes aren’t muddy, but the cinematography has a suitable warmth that enhances the evening shots (and even reflect Gibson’s sour mood). The audio transfer is top notch, with whispered dialogue filling your room thanks to an amplified DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track.

You’ll have to enjoy the sights and sounds of “Darkness,” as supplements are scarce. There are nine “Focus Point” features, but each one only lasts a few minutes. Six minutes of “Deleted Scenes” don’t add too much. And while there’s no director’s commentary track, Warner does include downloadable BD-Live bonuses, as well as a digital copy of the film for your portable devices.

The movie — **1/2 out of 4
The Blu-ray — **1/2 out of 4


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