Edge of Darkness Movie Poster Image

Edge of Darkness

Violent, convoluted conspiracy thriller isn't for families.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 117 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Nothing is learned, no good comes of anyone's actions, and things like bravery and trust eventually fall by the wayside. The main character quickly learns that he can't even trust the police in his own department. Breaking the rules seems to be his only answer; recklessness and revenge seem to be the ultimate motivators.

Positive role models

The main character only begins to make headway on his case when he acts increasingly reckless; he tells people he has nothing to lose and doesn't care. His efforts come to nothing more than a bloodbath and revenge -- he doesn't learn anything or change. His daughter, who tries to right a terrible wrong in the world, pays the ultimate price, and nothing comes of her efforts.


A young woman is blasted across a front porch with a shotgun, creating several holes in her torso and a lot of blood (it soaks through a white rug). Viewers see several more dead bodies, complete with bloody, gory wounds, and disturbing photographs of still more dead bodies. (The hero is personally responsible for at least three.) Additionally there's lots of guns and gunfire, car crashes, and one knife attack.


The hero and his adult daughter have a very brief conversation about the possibility of her being pregnant (and whether she has a boyfriend). The hero accuses another man of wanting to have sex with his daughter.


Multiple uses of "f--k" and "s--t" in all their various forms, plus at least one use of "hell," "piss," "asshole," and "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation).


The hero types on a Sony VAIO laptop, and his daughter arrives on Amtrak. Crown Royal Whisky is mentioned once and shown later.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The main character no longer drinks, but he keeps a bottle of whisky, which he pours for a visitor. Later, viewers see the same visitor drinking wine. In another scene, an upset young man sits down with a six-pack of beer and begins drinking vigorously.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Edge of Darkness is an extremely convoluted cop/conspiracy thriller that's very heavy on violence, with a large pile of bloody corpses, plenty of guns, shootouts, fights, chases, and crashes. Characters use harsh language, with plenty of "f--k" and "s--t." Despite a strong performance by star Mel Gibson, the movie has a sour, hopeless tone. Characters who do the right thing are brutally punished, and Gibson's character -- the ostensible hero -- acts recklessly and violently. The film eventually sinks to a revenge finale with no positive lessons to take away.

What's the story?

Emma Craven (Bojana Novakovic), who works as an intern at a security research compound, comes home to Boston for a visit with her beloved dad, police detective Thomas Craven (Mel Gibson). But before they even get settled, Emma is shot and killed on Thomas' front porch. The police think Thomas was the target, but his own investigation leads in a different direction. He learns that Emma was about to blow the whistle on her company -- but why? And how can one cop stand up against an entire web of corruption that includes a corporate CEO (Danny Huston), a U.S. senator (Damian Young), and a mysterious secret agent called Jedburgh (Ray Winstone)?

Is it any good?


The thrills are few and far between, and the rest of the movie consists of complex but not particularly clever dialogue. Winstone's character is used to fill in the blanks, but the movie is never sure if he's a mysterious, all-knowing outsider or just another link in the chain. Gibson (with a Boston accent) is very good in the lead role, and his scenes with Winstone make for some of the movie's most enjoyable moments. But as the character spins more and more out of control, the movie seems to go with him.

Talented genre director Martin Campbell (The Mask of Zorro, Casino Royale) stepped up in EDGE OF DARKNESS to adapt a BBC miniseries he worked on in 1985; unfortunately, the result feels condensed and convoluted, with too many cheap shortcuts to tie things together. It's a combination of the absurd -- as it deals with cartoonish villains with cartoonish plans -- and grim, as it follows the murder of the hero's daughter and several other gruesome, violent deaths.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what the movie is saying about revenge. Does it solve problems in the end? Do you think it's worth what the characters go through?

  • Was the movie's violence gruesome or shocking? Is the main character desensitized to violence? How does watching this much violence make you feel?

  • Families can talk about "whistleblowing." Emma tries to report a big corporation's dangerous and illegal deeds to the authorities. How realistic is it that a person's life would be in danger in this situation? How much would you risk to do the right thing?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 29, 2010
DVD/Streaming release date:May 11, 2010
Cast:Danny Huston, Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone
Director:Martin Campbell
Studio:Warner Bros.
Run time:117 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong bloody violence and language

This review of Edge of Darkness was written by

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Adult Written byMovieMan26 October 11, 2010

Grim thriller too violent and intense for kids

This is a very violent, very dark, yet well-made thriller. My only problem with it as it didn't seem epic enough for Mel Gibson's comeback. Parents: This is a very violent and dark movie with shocking, sudden acts of very bloody violence. This is no happy tale. There's also language. Bottom Line: In the end, you don't really feel satisfied, or that happy, but you may be able to think back and appreciate some really well shot scenes. Thanks for reading! - Movie Man
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Adult Written byacary September 18, 2010

Great movie for adults, not a good movie for kids!!!

Not for kids 17 or younger. A very good adult movie. Mel Gibson does a great job and I was interested all the way till the very end. Strong language, violent, and has both postive and negative messages.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byPeguin July 7, 2010

Good in a "Silkwood" sort of way

I guess it depends on what message you mean when you rate this positive or negative. A law enforcement officer going vigilante to avenge the death of his daughter... not a good message. Standing up for what you believe in, no matter what, even if it seems hopeless that you will win... good message. I was pleased with the ending, but won't give it away. Yes, it was quite violent. But it was good in a "Silkwood" sort of way. If your teen is interested in activism, watch it with them.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models