Movie Review

Thomas Craven is a nice guy. A respected cop. A loving dad. He lost his wife some years back, but his quiet life in a small Boston suburb is pretty even keel. He stays busy. Works hard. And when his twentysomething daughter, Emma, gets the chance to come home for a visit, it's always a treat. The memories of her childhood come flooding back. They laugh and catch up.

And then there's suddenly no more laughter left for Tom. And there's no more life left for Emma. Just after she arrives at the house, a masked thug steps out of a car and pumps a shotgun shell into the girl's torso. She dies in Tom's arms.

Her brutal death is devastating for the cop. In one savage moment he's lost everything. And Tom is sure that it's all his fault. Some felon was aiming for him and took his precious daughter by accident. It's against regulations, but he's dead set on sticking with the case, finding the killer and bringing him to justice.

When the determined detective starts taking care of his daughter's effects, though, some odd bits jump to his seasoned attention: a gun and a Geiger counter. A black SUV parked outside her apartment. A lot of tight-lipped people on her speed dial.

As Tom starts peeling back each onionskin layer of this growing mystery, he quickly realizes there's a shadowy and deadly conspiracy at work that reaches to the highest levels of power.

And Tom decides he can no longer afford to be a nice guy.

Positive Elements

The bond between Tom and Emma is strong and deep. The two love each other without reservation and that love is revealed throughout the movie as Tom remembers and relives past joys with his daughter. Though things eventually turn bloody, the Boston detective's initial motives are just. And even when he knows that revealing the corporate and government scandal behind his daughter's death will mean personal disgrace and, potentially, his death, he still moves to reveal the truth.

Emma's employer Northmoor sends a corporate "fixer" named Darius Jedburgh to see Tom. The two speak frankly, and Jedburgh is moved by Tom's honest anguish and forced to reexamine the foul things he's done in his life.

[Spoiler Warning] While the killer is certainly no saint, he ultimately sacrifices his own life to spare another's. And Emma's death is connected to her attempt to blow the whistle on a deadly government nuclear weapon conspiracy. Via DVD recording, Tom learns that his daughter believed she could save innocent lives. "I have to do what's right," she tells the camera. "I love you, Dad."

Spiritual Content

Tom approaches a senator with evidence of the politician's involvement in a large scandal. Using spiritual language to lend weight to the confrontation, Tom tells the man, "You'd better decide whether you're hanging on the cross or banging in the nails."

Throughout the film, Emma is seen through Tom's memory or imagination, except at the very end where the movie uses her image to suggest the possibility of a peaceful afterlife.

Sexual Content

When Tom walks into Emma's apartment we see two framed artistic nude photos on her wall (side and rear shots). Emma wears a formfitting tank top.

Violent Content

Edge of Darkness never shies away from dark and bloody visuals. Some of its scenes are downright grotesque. When Emma is shot, the blast propels her through Tom's front door, ripping away her clothes, splaying the flesh of her chest and splashing blood all over Tom and the room. A dead man is seen after a shotgun blast has left a large crater in his head. Another corpse is shown in close-up with a bullet hole to the temple.

A woman is hit by a car. Her body is dragged down the street and tumbles rag doll-like with bloodied face and broken limbs. Several government officials are shot point-blank with a high-powered handgun—sending remains sprawling. Bodies surface in a lake.

Tom is attacked by a man with a knife and the two pummel each other viciously as they slam about an apartment. The cop is also attacked by two men and knocked out with a stun gun. It's stated that several people, including Emma, are purposely poisoned with radiation by Northmoor officials. Later, Tom discovers that his milk has been poisoned by company thugs.

As the film progresses, Tom's thoughts turn from righteous retribution to raw revenge. And as they do, he throws off his reserve and starts blasting back. He puts a bullet through a crook's hand to get to his head. The result is a gory death as the man's eye is blown out. He cripples another by shooting both his legs, letting him tumble down a staircase. He forces the poisoned milk into someone's mouth and shoots him in the throat. He head-butts a scientist and slams a metal gurney into his face.

Crude or Profane Language

Over 35 f-words and around 10 s-words. A handful of uses of "a‑‑," "h‑‑‑" and "b‑‑tard" are added to the mix. Jesus' name is misused several times; God's is combined with "d‑‑n" once.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Jedburgh smokes cigars. He drinks a glass of wine, and he and Tom talk over a glass of whiskey. Jedburgh also downs a prescription med with his drink. An ashtray in Emma's boyfriend's apartment is full of cigarette butts. He takes swigs from bottle of beer.

Other Negative Elements


Mel Gibson's return to acting goes smoother than one might think in this engrossing and intelligently directed tale that slowly untangles a twisting mystery. Forget about the goofy carnage of the Lethal Weapon movies, this rampaging cop drama (based on a 1985 BBC series) captures the central character's undying love and determination to dig up the truth. And it masterfully helps us identify with a father's deeply conflicted anguish.

All that clue- and soul-searching, however, is surrounded by blazing bullets, pounded flesh, splashing gore and raw profanity. As Tom crosses the line between justice and vengeance, Gibson and Co. too readily embrace that darkness the film's title references.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

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Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range



Mel Gibson as Thomas Craven; Ray Winstone as Darius Jedburgh; Danny Huston as Jack Bennett; Bojana Novakovic as Emma Craven; Shawn Roberts as Burnham


Martin Campbell ( )


Warner Bros.



Record Label



In Theaters

January 29, 2010

On Video

May 11, 2010

Year Published



Bob Hoose