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CLOSE TO THE EDGE

EDGE OF DARKNESS

(thriller. Starring Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Bojana Novakovic, Danny Huston, Shawn Roberts. Directed by Martin Campbell. cert 15A)

With the coming year seeing big-screen reworkings of much-loved -- well, by some anyway -- TV shows from the past such as The A-Team and The Green Hornet, it's hard to complain when a quality piece of small screen drama makes the leap across the divide, especially when it comes with serious names attached.

Last year the 90s BBC conspiracy thriller State of Play made for a solid vehicle for Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck and Helen Mirren and now the Beeb's vaults have been poached yet again for another genre piece. Originally made in 1985, Edge of Darkness saw director Martin Campbell make his name by juggling a serious topic with perfectly judged suspense and explosive bouts of action when required and, following his success with Casino Royale, he's back at the helm here with the serious heft of Mel Gibson (in his first leading role since 2002's Signs) and Ray Winstone at the head of the cast.

The script (co-penned by William Monahan, who won an Oscar for The Departed and the writer of the original TV series, Troy Kennedy Martin) sees the story shift from Britain to the US, with Boston detective Tom Craven (Gibson) meeting his daughter Emma (Bojana Novakovic) on a break from her internship as a scientist, only for a gunman to blast her to death in the doorway of their home. Initially reckoning that he himself was the intended victim, Craven sets about an investigation only to become tangled up in a conspiracy which goes way beyond anything he's had to deal with before.

Some of the subtleties of the BBC series have had to be jettisoned to make the storyline fit into a two-hour running time. Gibson looks suitably drawn and aged as the grieving father, Ray Winstone is menacing as a CIA operative (although you may wonder why the CIA are recruiting British spooks) and the excellent Danny Huston has no problem convincing the viewer just what the head of a secretive multi-billion dollar corporation is capable of.

Edge of Darkness isn't without its flaws, mainly in that the conspiracy at the centre of the 1985 story doesn't really make sense in post-9/11 America, but for all that it's an extremely solid piece of mainstream movie-making which will pass a couple of hours in a thoroughly acceptable fashion. And it's nice to see Mel Gibson back in a role which allows him to display his outstanding talents. HHHII - GB