If I ever become a bad guy, I’m going to drive around in a beat-up red Subaru Outback. They’ll never see me coming.

In Edge of Darkness, the ride of choice is the good ol’ shiny black Chevy SUV. Clichéd? Sure. But fortunately the movie itself works on so many other levels that you can overlook drivel like that.

I’m thinking the reason it took Mel Gibson 7½ years to return as a big-screen headliner was that he was waiting for the perfect script. He almost found it.

Gibson plays Det. Tommy Craven, of the Bahston Police Depahtment (fortunately only a couple of the actors attempt the accent, and Gibson actually pulls his off). It all starts as he picks up his (let’s just say ‘estranged’) 24-year-old daughter Emma at the train station, and they return home just in time for her to get a wicked-bad bloody nose and start throwing up onto her dinner plate. As they rush out the door to go to the doctor, she gets blown away by a single shotgun blast.

Welcome home.

While Craven’s fellow cahps initially think he was the target, it doesn’t take long for him to realize his daughter had stumbled into something fishy, and it’s now his mission in life to figure out what… and exact revenge.

Martin Campbell (who also directed the original 1985 BBC Edge of Darkness TV series) injects the film with the same levels of high suspense and thrilling action that brought to his fantastic reboot of the Bond franchise, 2006’s Casino Royale— though he does push the envelope a bit on the carnage, especially in the last half-hour.

The screenplay (by The Departed’s William Monahan, along with Andrew Bovell) helps elevate Edge of Darkness above similar fare (such as Gibson’s own mediocre Ransom from 1996), even with a few (forgivable) plot holes. And the inclusion of home movies of young Emma playing on the beach, along with Ray Winstone’s scene-stealing turn as a ‘fixer’, help make this much more than a cookie-cutter vengeance pic.

Yes, the bad guys are the rich, white men who dress well, and yes, they are so supremely bad that human lives mean nothing to them, but that doesn’t mean Edge of Darkness isn’t a very captivating, very entertaining thrill ride…

…shiny black SUVs and all.

3.5/5 stars