'Edge of Darkness'
Rated R for strong bloody violence and language. 117 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.
It's been seven years since his last film, but Mel Gibson is still playing martyr.
After righteously battling injustice in "Lethal Weapon,” "The Patriot,” "Payback” and others, Gibson plays Thomas Craven, a humble Boston police detective and single father to a 24-year-old daughter, Emma (Bojana Novakovic).
When Emma is killed, Craven sets out to find the killer, a journey that leads him into a complex web of corporate and political cover-up. Hellbent in a beige raincoat, he attacks with little self-regard.
Now 54, Gibson is grayer and grimmer. The wildness and fire that once exploded unpredictably from Gibson is dimmed after several hard years for the actor. But he fits well in "Darkness.”
Some might reasonably swear off films with Gibson, but there aren't a lot of actors making movies that try to bring contemporary rage to the multiplexes. Perhaps, though, crusades needn't always be a bloodbath. With Ray Winstone as a weary, philosophical government operative and Danny Huston as a slick CEO.
'Saint John of Las Vegas'
Rated R for language and some nudity. 85 minutes. Two stars out of four.
This deadpan comedy has Steve Buscemi playing John, an insurance man sent to look into a dubious car accident just outside Vegas.
John doesn't want to go — Vegas did a number on him — but he doesn't resist too hard, either. Maybe he knows it's time he faced his demons. But first-time writer-director Hue Rhodes never tries to fill in the blanks about John's past or compulsions. He's too busy echoing Dante's "Inferno” and sending John on a superficial road trip through Oddsville, USA. Buscemi can do droll desperation with the best of them, but the underdeveloped John remains a cipher. Sarah Silverman is wasted as the sweet contrast to John's weary fatalism. As a portrait of one man's journey toward dignity, "Saint John” isn't bad enough to create its own special circle of hell. As a comedy, though, it's anything but divine.
'When in Rome'
Rated PG-13 for some suggestive content. 117 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.
A vehicle to turn Kristen Bell into the latest romantic comedy star, "When in Rome” is a poor coming-out party.
Bell proved her wit and smarts in the short-lived TV series "Veronica Mars,” and was introduced to many in the Judd Apatow-produced "Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” Though she clearly has many on her side (Will Arnett, Danny DeVito, Jon Heder and her real-life squeeze Dax Shepard all play stalkers under a spell in the film), her charisma is stifled by the cliche when-will-I-ever-get-married story.
She plays a Guggenheim Museum curator who is cursed when she steals five coins tossed into a fountain in Rome.
While she is harassed by Arnett et al., a real suitor (Josh Duhamel) pursues her. Dashing and klutzy, Duhamel generally comes off as better than the material.
The finest moments of the film are his well-timed pratfalls. It's that slapstick that suggests where "When in Rome” might have gone: more screwball and less rom-com.