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'Edge of Darkness'

Failed film shows Gibson in worst performance ever

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Posted: Saturday, February 6, 2010 12:00 am

Sometimes I hate my job.

I try to limit my movie-watching diet to films that actually seem worthwhile to me, and I rarely watch a movie "just because."

Consequently, I've managed to duck some truly awful films. The downside to this, of course, is that when I label something as one of the absolute, bottom-of-the-barrel worst movies I've ever seen, it doesn't necessarily carry much weight. But I implore you, even if you've never listened to me before: Do not see "Edge of Darkness."

Actually, let me amend that: Do not see "Edge of Darkness" unless you're some kind of sickie masochist, or unless you and your drunk frat-buddy friends are looking for some sort of "MST3K"-style, so-bad-it's-good experience. But what could possibly be so horrendous about a seemingly harmless Mel Gibson potboiler, you ask? Well …

Perhaps it's the fact that as a widowed cop investigating the murder of his activist daughter, Gibson turns in the most comically terrible performance of his career, and goes through the entire movie inexplicably sounding and acting like some kind of short, angry Bostonian Forrest Gump.

Maybe it's the cartoonishly evil bad guys headed by Danny Huston ("X-Men Origins: Wolverine"), who appears to be filled with shame and regret for partaking in such a patently ridiculous project.

Maybe it's the bizarre directorial choices made by filmmaker Martin Campbell, who, despite giving us the smashing "Casino Royale," has done a complete 180, and now appears to have the filmmaking talent of a three-toed sloth.

Or is it the fact that the whole thing plays out like "The Constant Gardener" for morons, culminating in 10 of the most unintentionally hilarious minutes I've ever seen in a major studio picture?

"Edge of Darkness"

Zero stars (out of four)
2010, Martin Campbell, U.S., R

So, yeah, take your pick.

A personal message to Mel Gibson: You're a brilliant filmmaker, but I cannot fathom why your chose this — this — as your first star vehicle in seven years. I award you zero stars, sir, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Commentary

I'll be doing my usual front-page Oscar breakdown the day before the telecast on Sunday, March 7, but I figure there's no harm in doing some pre-game analysis of the nominations as well. (Explicit predictions in major categories will be reserved for the main event.)

When the nods were announced on Tuesday morning, there were no huge shockers — snubs or inclusions — that demanded immediate outrage (unless you count the Best Supporting Actress nomination of Maggie Gyllenhall for "Crazy Heart" over Julianne Moore for "A Single Man," but I don't think anyone's losing sleep over it — except, of course, Julianne Moore), but here are a few random thoughts anyway:

— As expected, James Cameron's "Avatar" — which recently beat Cameron's own "Titanic" to become the all-time biggest money-maker, both domestically and worldwide — led the way with nine nominations, tied with "The Hurt Locker" (which, interestingly enough, was directed by Cameron's ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow). More importantly, though, "Inglourious Basterds" became Tarantino's most-nominated film, with a stunning eight nods. The movie was bolstered by an Ensemble Cast win at the Screen Actors Guild awards, yet I fear that the only Oscars it has a real shot at are Supporting Actor for Christoph Waltz (a shoe-in, in fact) and Original Screenplay for Tarantino himself. As always, I'll be in Quentin's corner.

— I was pleasantly surprised to find the imaginative sci-fi action flick "District 9" up for Best Picture and Adapted Screenplay awards, especially since I slightly preferred it to "Star Trek," the other sci-fi dark horse. But how did "The Blind Side" get into the picture? (Didn't see it. Won't see it, largely because I still have some nominal degree of self-respect.) Kudos to "Up," which will certainly win the Animated Feature award, and after 1991's "Beauty and the Beast" has become only the second "cartoon" to ever make the cut for Best Picture.

— But does this roster of Best Picture contenders even matter, since the field has been expanded to include 10 films instead of the traditional five? The answer is no. Everyone who's anyone knows that the "real" Best Picture nominees are the five films represented in the Director category: "Avatar," "The Hurt Locker," "Inglourious Basterds," "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' By Sapphire" and "Up in the Air." I suspect the expanded field was a sloppy ploy to boost box office revenues for some smaller films, but for some reason I doubt "A Serious Man" will all of a sudden skyrocket to the top of the charts just because the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to throw the Coen Bros. a token nomination, ya know?

— How on earth did Matt Damon snag a nod for "Invictus"? I'm glad such a mediocre movie was shut out of Best Picture and Director contention, but I think Damon should have been shunned as well. In my always humble opinion, sporting a decent South African accent and managing to not step on your scenes shouldn't automatically qualify one for an Oscar nomination. If they love Damon so much, why didn't they honor him in the Best Actor category for his far more impressive work in "The Informant!"?

— Yes, the British import "In the Loop" managed to sneak into the Adapted Screenplay race. The nominees will most certainly just be "room meat" at the ceremony, but a little recognition of pure genius is always encouraging.

— On a completely different note: Where, exactly, was Hayo Mizazaki's "Ponyo" (distributed in the U.S. by Disney) in the Animated Feature category? And for that matter, who or what is "The Secret of Kells"?

— A question that has always nagged at me (I'm too lazy and insolent to look up the answer): What's the difference between Sound Editing and Sound Mixing? And why is "Up" apparently better in the former category, while "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" is more impressive in the latter (the other four films in both categories are identical)? The mind reels.

Jason Wallis is a News-Sentinel copy editor. He can be reached at jasonwallis@comcast.net.

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