February 11th, 2022
STARRING: LIAM NEESON, AIDAN QUINN, EMMY RAVER-LAMPMAN, TAYLOR JOHN SMITH
DIRECTED BY: MARK WILLIAMS
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 1 STAR (Out of 4)
It’s been slowly approaching, but I think Liam Neeson’s run as an action star has finally run its course. It seems nearly every year, around January or February, we see the standard Liam Neeson action fare, where he plays the mystery man, the rugged agent, or the trained assassin and typically I have been all for it. His recent film- Blacklight– is about as basic as his movies have been, with Neeson playing a fixer for the FBI, often called to help get an agent out of difficult deep cover situations. The formula of Blacklight is not much different to what we’ve seen in the past, but the pacing, the action sequences, all of it is behind a step, in a plot that never thrills, indicating that at the least, these Liam Neeson action movies should take a break.
Neeson’s character is Travis Block, a Vietnam veteran, the guy being called in a pinch, and best friends with the director of the FBI- Gabriel Robinson (Aidan Quinn). Block is a grandfather, desperately trying to make up for his failures as a father with his own daughter Amanda (Claire van der Boom) by being there for his granddaughter Natalie. That’s not always the case, however, as he’s put on the job of helping Dusty Crane (Taylor John Smith), an FBI agent that has had enough of the dirty side of the business, and now wants to go to journalist Mira Jones (Emmy Raver-Lampman) to air all of the FBI’s ugly secrets. The more Block becomes involved in helping, the more he tries to stop Dusty from his good conscience, he begins to see that he’s been helping a corrupt operation from the start.
The direction here is by Mark Williams, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Nick May and a story by Brandon Reavis, and as a movie involving agents, car chases, and shootouts, this is incredibly dull. Williams and Neeson had worked together before on Honest Thief, which worked much more for me, trying to merge Neeson’s soft-romantic side, as a bank robber trying to choose a love life after crime. He’s working a little bit on that level, making it about a man that wants to choose family over his past, but that’s the afterthought, and the dialogue is just incredibly bland. There’s very little in the characters to care about, a checking off of political thriller boxes, and pacing that never delivers any excitement.
There’s also the factor of Neeson as the leading man. I still think he’s an excellent actor. He was Schindler for christ sake. Unfortunately it’s when Neeson’s character is asked to chase after people or when he spars off with a pair of voiceless agents in Robinson’s house, it becomes a never ending stream of bullets, while his movements made my back hurt. On top of that, the moments between two Irish actors Neeson and Quinn become two old guys yelling at one another, failing to make anything exciting, no matter how much louder their voices become. Ironically, Blacklight is one of the first Neeson movies that feels like it deserves a DTV release.
On top of all of this, I could not for the life of me explain why this movie is called Blacklight. This is just one of the many problems here. If anything Blacklight will have audiences appreciate the movies that have preceded this in The Marksmen and The Ice Road, only because at least those movies try to do things differently. Blacklight fails on nearly every aspect, from the mundane action, wooden acting, and recycled plot. There comes a time when you hope Liam Neeson realizes the time to get out of the action movie business and sadly that moment is now.
BLACKLIGHT IS PLAYING IN THEATERS THIS FRIDAY FEBRUARY 11TH, 2022
Written by: Leo Brady