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In the retribution-inflicted, psyched-out cop drama-thriller Edge of Darkness, Mel Gibson returns in the pilot seat to a genre his resume knows best. His last leading screen role in the M Night Shyamalan science-fiction drama Signs had him pitching water (and Joaquin Phoenix) at evil invading aliens. In Edge of Darkness, the evil has shifted to corporate America and covert government deals.

Based on the BBC drama of the same name written by Troy Kennedy Martin (screenwriter of the original Italian Job), Darkness is retooled into a fast-paced drama featuring one confrontation after another. While most confrontations are verbal between room-bound characters, others have Gibson flinging people across the room or implacably shooting them between the eyes.

For good measure, screenwriter William Monahan (working from an earlier screenplay by Andrew Bovell) and director Martin Campbell consistently make Edge's unremitting bash-fest fun. Campbell, whose directorial credits include rebooting the James Bond franchise twice (Golden Eye and Casino Royale), keeps his scenes and characters from becoming B-grade vigilantes by oversupplying them with emotional torment and acute mental instability — in about every other scene, Gibson sees his dead daughter walk the living world in reality-bending flashback scenes.

In the screen story, Thomas Craven's visiting daughter is shot down outside their house. Craven, who believes himself to be the intended target, starts investigating and ends up in corporate muck. As it turns out his daughter (Bojana Novakovic) was packing firearms and showed signs of food poisoning (which later turns out to be nuclear poisoning).

During his investigations Craven meets up with the guy who best matches the description of being the villain, Danny Huston, the head-honcho of the company making nuclear weapons intended to be traced back to foreign nations if they are used as bombs. He also meets up with a shadowy consultant/fixer with mixed allegiances played by Ray Winstone, who outshines everyone but Gibson with his dry wit, heavy voice and meaty persona.

While not new, The Edge of Darkness borders between good and almost greatness. Its drama is well-executed and bruising, and its action (and Gibson's aim) even more so. Rated R for concentrated acts of violence and bloody vengeance.

Quick Prediction While it is no Taken (another movie about avenging fathers which did well at cinemas), Edge of Darkness opened with a respectable $17.2 million, decent for a flick in its genre. Made with a budget of $80 million, the film is destined to take a beating next few weeks by Wolfman, Percy Jackson, Valentine's Day, and even Dear John. Even with Mel Gibson's international appeal, Edge is destined to double its budget during its international theatrical run.