America usually embraces and loves come-backs from former Hollywood favorites, such as Mickey Rourke in his Golden Globe-winning turn last year in ‘The Wrestler.’ But audiences weren’t so quick to overlook Mel Gibson’s shortcomings, as the director and screenwriter’s first movie as an actor in eight years, the crime thriller ‘Edge of Darkness,’ grossed only $17.1 million during its opening weekend.
The film, which is the first time Gibson graced the screen since his drunk driving arrest and alleged anti-Semitic rant in 2006, paled in comparison to Liam Neeson’s similarly themed hit ‘Taken.’ That movie made $24.7 million during its opening weekend last year, even though it lost the majority of its targeted young adult male audience on Super Bowl Sunday.
‘Edge of Darkness’ was also doomed by the fact that James Cameron’s new mega sci-fi hit, and the new number one grossing movie of all time, ‘Avatar’ toppled the box office again for the seventh straight week. That movie made another $30 million over the weekend, and with the Oscar nominations being announced this week, it’s sure to be number one next weekend as well.
Gibson was hoping to revive his once-thriving acting career with ‘Edge of Darkness,’ as he has conquered many genres. His particular strengths were in action thrillers, such as in the ‘Lethal Weapon’ series, and as a man out for revenge, as in ‘Payback’ and ‘Ransom.’ The role of Thomas Craven, a Boston homicide detective trying to find his daughter’s killer, in ‘Edge of Darkness’ was intended to be not only reminiscent of those roles, but also his portrayal of Rev. Graham Hess in 2002’s hit ‘Signs,’ his last acting role, and Sean Penn’s Oscar-winning turn as Jimmy Markum in 2003’s ‘Mystic River.’
While the movie itself received mixed reviews, many critics praised Gibson for his acting. But ‘Edge of Darkness’ was the weakest opening weekend of his career since his Oscar-winning role in 1995’s ‘Braveheart,’ which opened in 1,000 fewer theaters. Perhaps his second comeback role this year, in the comedic-drama ‘The Beaver,’ will fare better. Gibson’s third screenplay, titled ‘How I Spent My Summer Vacation,’ will be released next year and will feature him as a career criminal whose ally in a Mexican prison is a 9-year-old boy.
Written by: Karen Benardello