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THE WEEKEND MARQUEE: Mel Gibson’s ‘Darkness’ Takes On ‘Avatar’

EDGE_OF_DARKNESS_BILLBOARD

The title for Mel Gibson‘s first starring vehicle since Signs in 2002, Edge of Darkness, could also describe the public perception of him since his 2006 arrest for drunk driving. Although four years have passed, memories of his widely reported tirade, which included his use of anti-semitic slurs and calling a female sergeant “sugar tits”, have not faded away. Overcoming his reputation may be an impossible task, but Gibson is giving it a try. He’s been a good sport about poking fun at his image, even at the Golden Globes, when host Ricky Gervais introduced him, saying:

Honestly, I like a drink as much as the next man . . . unless the next man is Mel Gibson.

Hollywood seems to ready to reembrace the actor. Edge of Darkness director Martin Campbell argued Gibson has been missed during his time away from acting and explained his decision to cast him, telling the LA Times:

There was nobody else. I liken Mel to the old Hollywood stars like Robert Mitchum, Lee Marvin, William Holden, people like that, and we’ve got none of them now, do we? Everyone now is so lightweight. Even George Clooney, who is a terrific actor, he’s too polished. Mel has this masculine kind of emotional weight that others don’t. Possibly Russell Crowe, but he’s too young for this role. Eastwood is gone from acting and Harrison Ford, he’s got the grit, but he doesn’t have the menace or the power.

edge_of_darkness_ver2The BUZZ: So-so. While Gibson’s bravura performance in the title role, as a homicide detective suspected of killing his own daughter, is winning over critics, it seems the movie itself doesn’t quite match up.

Rolling Stone‘s Peter Travers says:

The years of boozing and accusations of anti- Semitism have left Gibson, 54, looking thicker and worry- creased. But his acting has deepened. Too bad his comeback vehicle springs so many leaks. Edge of Darkness, the Americanization for short attention spans of the awardwinning British miniseries from 1985, is a mixed bag even with the same director, Casino Royale’s Martin Campbell. The plot complications involving nuclear waste and political maneuvering have been trivialized beyond all meaning. But watching Gibson in a revenge fantasy feeds all my needs for a bloodlusting B-movie feast.

Time‘s Richard Corliss says:

Gibson, who has always been an undervalued actor, does a sturdy job as a grieving dad who still engages in conversations with his dead child; it’s almost a letdown when he puts aside his mourning sickness and spirals into melodrama. At 54, Gibson is aging interestingly, with severe creases and sagging flesh. You look at him and think, This guy should play Nixon — another complex man of significant achievement with a debilitating belief that his enemies were bangin’ nails into him.

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