Mel Gibson brings an edge to the character in this film that I don’t see in a lot of younger actors working in action or adventure movies. I remember seeing him in “The Bounty” many years ago with this beautiful face and a type of personality and edge to his portrayal of Mr. Christian that was not altogether likeable or endearing.
This same edge works in the craggier and much older face of the darker Mel Gibson. In some ways, it suits his personality to have the lines and wrinkles whereas before he simply looked too beautiful and too perfect for this world. In this film, we see elements of the older film noir detective stories that were boiler-plate studio fare in the forties and fifties. The wonderful Robert Ryan was a perfect match for the world-weary cop role and he had the craggy face that fit the bill. Here we see Mel Gibson grown into a new age Robert Ryan and the odd thing is he slips seamlessly into the role.
In watching this film, the plot of D.O.A. comes to mind. A cop who truly has “nothing to lose” finds it easier to search for the truth. This film suits Gibson as there is no female lead and no distraction from the focus of a very convoluted and at times, hard to follow storyline. (It is said to be diluted from a 6-part BBC series).
The focus of the film is one where corrupt characters float in and out of the frames, dead bodies are shown popping up in the opening frame and there is no truly “good guy.” That gives you some of the basic elements of film noir and if you liked some of the great ones like “The Big Sleep”, you should find this offering to be right on target.