By Steven Moore
I’ve notice that each of us on Buried Cinema chooses our pairings to the movie under review differently. Kevin often chooses a pairing that has the same actor, Tom by director, Nate by whatever Korean (or foreign, if he has to reach wider) film he can make fit. Oddly enough, Brian and I are the closest in how we pair movies, going for the thematic link. The difference is Brian often chooses movies he has already seen and wants to share with us, for good or bad. I, on the other hand, try to choose movies that most of us, if not all of us, haven’t seen (when I’m not staging a coup d’état on the choice entirely, of course).
One of the things I love about doing a weekly podcast with these guys is the process of discovering a movie together. There’s something about watching a movie for the first time, trying to process it, and coming to an understanding about what succeeds or fails that just can’t be replicated on a second or third viewing. Usually, I’ve already made my mind up at that point and am just trying to confirm my opinion. The discussion becomes more about proving my point of view than discovering what I think.
With that mindset, I chose Edge of Darkness as my Option C pairing for 12, the Nikita Mikhalkov remake of 12 Angry Men. Edge of Darkness was Mel Gibson’s 2010 attempt to return to his action roots, not long after the various controversies he was involved in began to settle down. I chose this in part because IMDb suggested it, but also because I had heard it was an edgy (pun intended, sorry) revenge thriller that explored the consequences of finding the “truth.” This being the essential thematic idea behind 12, I figured it would make a good pairing. Although it turned out to be a surprisingly good action movie that kept my attention, I will ultimately only remember it for a few mind-blowing scenes.
No matter what you think of Mel Gibson, he’s a great action star. In the same class as the Bruce Willis action hero, he’s not a muscled, invincible meathead or impossibly skilled martial artist. He gets by on luck and grit, and when he’s pissed, people better run. The man may be a terrible person (or not, who really knows?), but he is able to infuse what would normally be a mindless action character with a sense of pathos that few other actors can. Where Bruce Willis is a master at the nothing-left-to-lose persona, Gibson can convey a sense of desperation that drives him to forget not only the law, but also morality in his attempt to “set things right.”
This is exactly the character he portrays in Edge of Darkness, a man who is desperate for justice and the truth. He plays Thomas Craven, a respected Boston police officer who has lived his life for his daughter. While I’d like to go into more of a synopsis of the film, the surprises are so much a part of the experience of watching this movie, I hesitate to say more. There were several times when I said out loud, “Holy hell, did that just happen?” Although some of the characters are obviously not going to make it out of the movie alive, the suddenness or method in which they make their exit keeps surprising. The shock moments keep the movie propelling forward, at an admittedly herky-jerky pace.
What’s interesting about this revenge thriller is its pacing. There are many long series of scenes where not a lot happens. People talk, papers get exchanged, someone says something a little revealing, and Gibson looks defeated. Suddenly, all hell breaks loose, and I was left trying to reconstruct what just happened for the next 20-30 minutes while people continue to talk, papers continue to get exchanged, someone says something a little more revealing, and Gibson looks even more defeated. While the tropes of the revenge thriller are there, the characters, the ones that matter, are unexpected and surprisingly well written.
After watching the movie, I realized it would have been a perfect pairing for 16 Blocks, the movie Brian paired with 12. As it is, I’m sorry that we didn’t cover it on the podcast. It may not be one of Gibson’s best action movies, but it’s definitely worth talking about.
About the Author:
Steve was just a hapless young kid who couldn’t get into Starfleet, but by sheer wit, determination, and a hell of a lot of luck, he was made full ensign of Starfleet’s flagship anyway, despite having never even attended the Academy. He told me I could write anything I wanted about him here, as long as I said that he was like Nate, but better. When he’s not brooding over the graves of dead Irish poets, he is our talented Webmaster. We also record our podcast in his barn, so we’d be doubly non-existent without his considerable talents… and barn. His favorite films include Chinatown, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and anything Brian hates.