The film is both a murder mystery and a commentary on the dangers of a world in which massive and dangerous projects can be hidden all too easily simply by invoking the magic words, “that’s classified.”

If, like me, you already saw that fantastic BBC miniseries of the same name, on which this film is based, rest assured you are in for some surprises. While the core of the story is the same, the story has been updated for the present moment and brought home to America.

For those of you who haven’t seen this story before, I’d encourage you to read as little as you can so the surprises and twists hit you with full force.

The story starts out slowly, almost too slowly, as Boston Irish cop Travis Craven seeks to find who killed his daughter, and why. The cop’s character is authentically shaped by Irish screenwriter William Monahan, who won an Academy Award for his work on “The Departed,” and co-writer Andrew Bovell.

While the initial assumption is that the girl was killed by accident -- that the shooter was aiming for the father -- Craven doesn’t buy it. And the more he investigates, the more he realizes his daughter Emma had been hiding some incredibly sensitive secrets.

As Craven starts down a productive investigatory path, he encounters a shadowy intelligence operative who may be working for the government, or a private enterprise, or both, or neither, named Darius Jedburgh.

Jedburgh’s character is the only one displaying much nuance, thanks to the interesting writing and the wonderful performance by London actor Ray Winstone. The other characters are, for the most part, predictably good or evil.

And that’s part of the problem. I felt the topic was very important, but the delivery so unsubtle that the film, which could have perhaps opened a larger discussion on such topics, may be dismissed because the craftsmanship in terms of the story seems limited, at best.

At times, you feel you’re watching a drama, a thriller, or an action flick, but rarely do you feel all these things at the same time, making for a somewhat uneven viewing experience.

Even so, you really should see this film. Because the content is entirely relevant to our situation today, and the scenario too possible to simply dismiss out of hand.

Mel Gibson does a great job moving from a simple, honest cop to a man driven to the edge in his Quixotic quest for answers and justice. Serbian actress Bojana Novakovic, who plays Craven’s daughter Emma, strikes all the right notes as she appears via flashbacks.  

Whether you like this film or not, or refuse to see it, I really encourage you to seek out and view the old BBC series. The drama was top-notch, the story more intricate, and the denouement more satisfying to me than the one in the film version.

In addition, the original miniseries presented in detail the interesting concept of Gaia, lost in the new version, of how the Earth takes care of herself, and may eventually rid herself of whatever is slowly destroying it, including us.

I will say no more. See them both. It’s a topic worth investing your time in, even if the execution is a tad stilted in the later version.

Lisa Pease is a historian and writer who specializes in the mysteries of the John F. Kennedy era. She is also a movie buff.

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