If you have seen the previews (any of them) or are familiar with the original BBC miniseries from 1985 (I was not) you know that in Edge of Darkness the lead character’s (Boston detective Craven – played by Mel Gibson) daughter Emma is gunned down at the outset. The rest of the story involves the father trying to figure out if he or his daughter was really the true target, who did it and why did they do it. This is a return of sorts to the style of character and movie we were used to seeing Gibson in 20+ years ago so watching him in this film is certainly comfort food in that regard. Parallels will immediately be drawn to Taken, Ransom, Man On Fire and a host of other kidnap/murder revenge thrillers but I do think this one can stand slightly apart.
We are never given the history of the relationship between father and daughter and we never find out what happened to the mother or if she was ever around. The only backstory we have is that Craven constantly flashes back to his daughter as a 4-year old and imagines her still as that innocent little girl. This is a common attribute of loving fathers and is often played simultaneously for laughs and sentimentality (Steve Martin’s imaginings in Father of the Bride come to mind) but is oddly eerie at times in this film as Craven occasionally converses with his adult daughter’s disembodied voice. I’m not quite sure if it works but it can certainly be chalked up to the trauma he has just experienced. Certainly he had years of drawings, notes, crafts, gifts, vacations, experience, etc. with his daughter and the prospect of Emma’s life being just a memory would be enough to mentally and emotionally break him completely.