One of the landmark television programmes of the 1980s, the BBC's 'Edge of Darkness' was a thriller that mixed the Cold War, the green movement, political duplicity, big business and a whodunit. It told the story of Ronald Craven (the late Bob Peck), a Yorkshire detective whose environmental activist daughter Emma (Joanne Whalley) is shot dead in front of him. The murder investigation follows the theory that the shooting was a botched job and Craven was the target, but the more he digs the more convinced he becomes that it was Emma.
The six-part story has aged well and watching it on DVD now the chills it offers and many of the issues it raises are just as intense and valid as back in the winter of 1985. Its director, Martin Campbell, went on to the Bond adventures 'Golden Eye' and 'Casino Royale', and now, 25 years later, he's returned to Craven's quest for the truth.
The action is relocated to Boston, with Tommy Craven (Gibson) the detective whose world is smashed to pieces one wet night. The murdered Emma (Novakovic) was working as an intern at Northmoor, one of Massachusetts' biggest research companies and the recipient of huge grants. As Craven tries to deal with his grief he comes to realise that he knew far less about Emma's life than he thought - and she knew far more about her employers than they wanted.
Like all adaptations, 'Edge of Darkness' has two target audiences: those that know the source material and those who are arriving fresh to it. Campbell's film has more for the latter, and longtime fans may find that their mental scorecard has more minuses than plusses by the end.
The biggest problem is trying to fit a 317-minute story that thrived on cliffhangers and character complexity into a 117-minute film. There's a feeling throughout that the action is happening too quickly; that you know too much too soon and that, by moving the plot faster, tension has been lost. Another 40 minutes would have done a lot for Oscar-winning screenwriter William Monahan ('The Departed') and Andrew Bovell's script.
While Gibson is more gung-ho than Peck's Craven, this is one of his better roles. As for his co-stars, with the big shoes of both Joe Don Baker (from the series) and Robert De Niro (who left the film) to fill as the fixer Jedburgh, Winstone does a good job but doesn't get enough scenes. Huston is a little too Bondish as Northmoor's boss, while the impressive Novakovic's Emma comes off second best when compared to the character in the series.
Buy the original on DVD and then rent this when it's released with hopefully the only thing the series is missing: a Martin Campbell commentary.