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Armageddon Tag

Mel Gibson has always had a fetish for cinematic struggle — from his acting career, dotted with heartbroken and often bloodied law enforcement officers, to his directorial efforts, notably fixated on death and torture, Gibson has led audiences on a long odyssey of pain. What’s funny is that a lot of people didn’t realize this until Gibson went over the top with The Passion of the Christ, and I think this has a lot to do with the fact that for a lot of years, he was just too pretty to make you believe his characters had it all that bad. Martin Riggs might have been suicidal, but he had an exquisite mullet and he made funny voices; his sadness always seemed like more of a plot device designed to give audiences a breather between wisecracks.

Gibson is 54 now — or, to put things in perspective, three years older than Wilford Brimley was when he made Cocoon — and the rest of his body has caught up to those sad hound dog’s eyes. He stalks through Martin Campbell’s Edge of Darkness (a remake of Campbell’s own BBC series) like a ghost — shoulders slumped, head bowed, voice often little more than a leathery growl. Those eyes still have the same weight, but now it looks like they’ve pulled lines across the rest of his face. Did I say he stalks through the picture like a ghost? He’s haunting.

Gibson’s performance is what holds Edge of Darkness together. Campbell’s miniseries was a critical sensation in the ’80s, but in 2010, all of us have seen this kind of thing before — the story of the cop (Gibson) who loses his daughter in a seemingly random slaying, only to discover there’s a terrible conspiracy behind it all. And as it turns out, the bad guys here are fairly garden variety; worse still, there isn’t a lot of mystery surrounding the whodunit.