Thursday, January 28, 2010

That new Mel Gibson movie

So Mel Gibson has a new movie coming out called the Edge of Darkness. It's based on a British TV miniseries and normally this would mean I would be running around with my hair on fire telling you to watch the TV series first. This is not because the Gibson version is totally badass, but because the highly praised miniseries is not that great. The TV show is about six hours long, but didn't need all that time. Unlike the BBC miniseries State of Play, in which every scene felt essential, this one has long passages devoted to nothing much, both from the initial viewing and from the end of the viewing reflection. Much of the downtime is given to Bob Peck's character. Peck is a cop whose daughter is gunned down by a Irish thug who ambushed them at his house. He thinks it is revenge for his time in Ireland, but discovers it may be related to her own activities in the Green movement.

This is not to say that Peck (best known by me for his role as the guy who says "Clever girl" in Jurassic Park) isn't great when the story is moving. He does an excellent job overall, but the grief scenes go on too long. The other great character is Joe Don Baker who plays a Texan CIA officer (who is also somehow a Colonel in the Army.) The relationship and conversations between these two are the highlight of the movie.

The movie is a cri de couer against the horrors of nuclear power. Coming at the second peak of the nuclear Cold War, it is understandable, but now it feels dated. Great exaggerations (one explosion is said to threaten the whole of Eastern isn't possible.) about the dangers of nuclear material (read Atomic Obsession to calm your nuclear fears) and a plot that twists itself into nonsense threaten to completely bury the excellent work of Peck and Baker.

I had read reviews about the mini series for years, praising it as one of the great miniseries of all time. It isn't. Part of this is because the Golden Age of Television is right now. The best TV shows and miniseries come from the past ten years, not the years beforehand.

For quite awhile it was only available on VHS in the US. Now, no doubt thanks to the publicity of the Gibson movie, it is on DVD. You may as well watch the Gibson one and see if the story is interesting to watch for six hours.


Al said...

As many people probably do, I have a different perspective on EOD.
I loved every minute, but then I first watched it way back when it was new and so very topical.
I was quite interested to see a movie version was coming out. At least that was until I heard Gibson was playing the lead. He doesn't have a tenth of the acting ability that Bob Peck possessed.
Thanks for the review.

Tripp said...

Al, thanks for the comment. I think a lot of people loved it. My favorite part was the middle third as the intrigue swirled. I wasn't as fond of the first and last episodes.

From a review I heard on the radio, the new version is less a re-make than a re-imagining, which makes my argument about watching a condensed version less compelling.