All serious, consequential filmmakers have a consistent, animating theme and cinematic vision.
For Frank Capra, known for such gems as "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and "It's a Wonderful Life," it was the "importance of the individual," laced with humor to warm an audience to his core message. For Billy Wilder ("Double Indemnity," "Sunset Boulevard," etc.) it was human foibles, of which Hollywood is all too familiar, revealed through wit, cynicism and humor.
For Mel Gibson, his animating theme - despite, or perhaps because of, his personal foibles - is human suffering caused by injustice, alleviated through retribution, pursued with a vengeance.
As the New York Times' Neil Genzlinger writes in "The Cycle of Mel," Gibson has always been about "fighting injustice." Edge of Darkness, which opened Friday, January 22, "is no exception. In it he plays a detective who goes on a revenge-fueled hunt for whoever killed his daughter. It is a plot that bears a resemblance to the story line of Mad Max, his first significant film, 31 years ago, in which he played a police officer who goes after the motorcycle gang that killed his wife and son. For Mr. Gibson it has been a circular trip back to where he started, with plenty of wrongs righted and bad guys laid low along the way."
Let's hope he is just successful off screen!