THRILLER; 1hr 56min
STARRING: Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Bojana Novakovic
Face-off: from left, Gibson and Winstone
How great it is to see Gibson back onscreen after a seven-year break in a part that could have been purpose-built! The weather-beaten star is a heartbroken lion as Boston detective Tom Craven, a taciturn widower whose adored 24-year-old daughter, Emma (Novakovic), is gunned down beside him on his front porch. He is presumed to have been the target and his misery is a second skin but even if he were the type to do so, Craven has no time to break down. Tracking Emma’s killer, he discovers that his nuclear-engineer daughter led a dangerous secret life — which is where the Northmoor research facility and a sphinx-like Winstone come in.
Craven’s isn’t the stony face you’d want to see at your front door if you had something dodgy to hide behind it: he is as bulldog-dogged in his solo investigation as a man with nothing else to invest in. The mare’s nest he uncovers is a lethal mess of bureaucratic layers. Along with the rough stuff, which Gibson and director Martin Campbell (who also helmed the 1985 BBC series on which the film is based) handle with big-picture veterans’ care, the force with which he peels those layers back gives Darkness its gritty edge.