"Edge of Darkness" - Political Paranoia Redux
The release of the caustic thriller â€śEdge of Darknessâ€ť reminds us not only of what a potent screen actor Mel Gibson still can be but also of what a powerful jolt to the political zeitgeist the story delivered when it originally aired on British television in 1985.
The neatly Americanized film version, with Gibson returning to the screen after an eight year absence as taciturn Boston cop Thomas Craven looking for the truth behind his activist daughterâ€™s apparent drive-by murder, is directed by Martin Campbell (â€śCasino Royaleâ€ť), who not coincidentally was also behind the camera for the six-part BBC TV miniseries.
That series starred the late everyman character actor Bob Peck as Craven and the brilliantly idiosyncratic Joe Don Baker as Jedburgh, a shadowy, golf-obsessed political fixer (played also brilliantly in the new film by the silky, sinister Ray Winstone).
Released during the archly conservative (some would argue reactionary) regime of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, at a time when England was awash with anxious conspiracy theories concerning nuclear warfare, renegade plutonium and government secrecy, â€śEdge of Darknessâ€ť clearly touched a sensitive nerve among its rapt British audience. It also was during this general period that edgy films such as â€śDefence of the Realmâ€ť and â€śThe Whistle Blowerâ€ť and TV series such as â€śA Very British Coupâ€ť and â€śTraffikâ€ť would tickle Britonsâ€™ paranoid fancies.
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