Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Directed by: Martin Campbell
Starring: Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone
Before we begin I’d just like to state that I’m fully aware that this film is based on an English television drama, but as I haven’t seen it some of my points here may seem wrong to someone who’s 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 original series especially since I’ve heard its 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’s looking forward to the visit of his daughter. When she arrives she becomes 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 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 otherwise 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 it was like a conspiracy film that had been done so many times before, just 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’re doing. Mel also seems to have plenty of help from people willing to tell him what’s going on instead of him ever really having to do much detective work. It all came about a little too easy, as if the writers of the film were being 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’s as if the character had been written in simply because he was in the series, rather than because he 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.
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.
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 loss. By the end I was shocked at how easy it all became for a battered Gibson and with the people behind the conspiracy being so tough it seemed daft how one man managed to put their plan to bed. It’s 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’s much better than this turned out to be.