Starring: Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Bojana Novakovic
Running time: 117 minutes
Directed By: Martin Campbell
Written By: William Monahan & Andrew Bovell
Before we begin I would just like to state that I am fully aware this film is based on a English television drama, but as I have not seen it some of my points in here may seem wrong to someone who has watched the 1985 series, which was also directed by Martin Campbell. I have to say though after watching this I fully intend to watch the series especially since I have heard it is better, although if I'm honest it wouldn't take much to turn out better than this feature length version.
The film stars Mel Gibson as Boston police officer Thomas Craven who is looking forward to the visit of his daughter to his home. When she arrives she becomes rather ill and then continues having nosebleeds and fits of sickness over the course of one night. Hoping to find out what's wrong the pair decides to get themselves to the hospital but as they leave the house his daughter Emma is gunned down by a man in a ski mask. Despite having an emotional connection to the case Thomas demands to take it and sets off to unravel the mystery of who killed his daughter. Despite the press announcing it was a hit on Thomas gone wrong, Thomas is determined to prove that, that wasn't the case and begins to seek out the people who meant something to Emma, leading him to a conspiracy plot that Emma had got on the wrong side of. Meanwhile Darius Jedburgh (Winstone) has been hired by the government to sort out the mess and destroy the evidence that could possibly lead Craven to understand what was really going on in his daughter's life.
When I first sat down to watch this I was fairly excited to watch Mel Gibson taking on the role of a cop once again and to see him work as a detective in linking pieces of a bigger puzzle together. The trailer showed plenty of action and plot twists to make me think I was about to watch a film I could really sink my teeth into, unfortunately though I felt the plot of the film to be fairly flat and with very little really going on. It was like a conspiracy film that had been done so many times before but with a different title and a different lead actor. The way Mel tracks down the conspiracy seems a little too easy considering this plot has been designed by the government to erase anyone who could potentially threaten what they are doing. Mel also seems to have plenty of help from people willing to tell him what is going on instead of him ever really having to do much detective work. It all came about a little too easy and as if the writers of the film were being a little lethargic with the script. To me Winstone's role had very little to do with the overall picture and his character could have been cut. I know this character was a big part in the series but I'm pretty sure he had more to do than he does here. It is as if the character had been written in because he was in the series instead of because he was actually needed to be there. I have read that the series has the same plot and I can only hope that, due to it being a longer running television series, Thomas Craven has to work a lot harder to achieve his goals and that the conspiracy is much better that it needs longer to be explained. This ended up feeling rushed and a little pointless.
There are some rather tense moments in the film but not nearly as many as there should have been. One part where a speeding car heads straight for Mel but ends up in the lake is fairly impressive, as is Mel's escape from two government agents tracking him down. There was however one part that could have been great with Mel being handcuffed to a hospital trolley and doctors coming into him as if to operate despite them being in an abandoned warehouse, however this scene is over all too quickly and might as well have been cut altogether. The narrative seemed to be too generic and scenes like this were placed in after three or four scenes of exposition. There really wasn't much for an audience to get their minds working in order to keep up and I was hoping for something that could have turned out quite dark and tense. Winstone's character had the potential to do that but it never really paid off, and his final involvement in the film is nothing short of confusing.
Overall I was disappointed with this film. It had some good scenes but it never managed to hook me in. The opening with the daughter's death was over far too quickly and I never felt sad at Mel's lost. This wasn't particularly the acting but I felt it came about all too quickly. By the end I was shocked at how easy it all became for a battered Gibson and with the people being behind the conspiracy being so tough it seemed daft how one man managed to put their plan to bed. It is also blatantly obvious from the start who the mastermind is and as an audience you will never have to work hard to put together the mystery. All I can say is I will be watching the series and hoping that it is much better than this turned out to be.
2 / 5