Blacklight (2022)

Genres - Action, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Action Thriller  |   Release Date - Feb 11, 2022 (USA)  |   Run Time - 108 min.  |   Countries - American Samoa, Australia, China, United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by David Carlson

Liam Neeson stars as Travis Block, a special agent eyeing retirement, in Blacklight, a lackluster thriller directed by Mark Williams (Honest Thief) and written by Nick May. The film tries to pull viewers in with the main character battling an unfair system and seeing his family slipping away, but it falls flat due to an uninteresting story, an inadequate script, and a lack of dynamic action sequences.

Travis Block (Neeson) has known FBI Director Gabriel Robinson (Aidan Quinn) since the end of the Vietnam War and has worked as an undisclosed special agent under him for many years. But beyond that, he is a dad to Amanda (Claire van der Boom) and a grandpa to Natalie (Gabriella Sengos). So, as he feels he is missing too much time with them, starts to consider retirement. That plan turns complicated, however, after he learns that Dusty (Taylor John Smith), a younger agent he had brought up under his wing, may have uncovered dirty dealings within the FBI. Compounding the issue, Gabriel refuses to let Travis retire. After Dusty attempts to reach out to journalist Mira Jones (Emmy Raver-Lampman), he meets an untimely death. Travis is the only one left to pick up the pieces, and so he teams up with Mira to find out how deep the nefarious operation runs.

There are a few suspenseful moments that give this film a needed jolt, but there are simply not enough thrills to make up for the things it gets wrong. Among them are a script that is borderline boring, implausible sequences, a disjointed plot, and subpar action scenes. As the final act concludes, a "That's it?" reaction comes to mind. Halfway through, there is still some hope for an intriguing and suspenseful flick, though it feels like certain elements of Taken are present, albeit implemented much more underwhelmingly. As the story goes on, it becomes more and more obvious that spectators are headed for an anticlimactic resolution. To make matters worse, it is even more predictable than the average Liam Neeson movie, but not nearly as fun. Speaking of the actor, his overall performance is not bad, and Raver-Lampman and Quinn deliver decent portrayals, but they are not nearly enough to offset the lack of stimulation and adventure, or the shoddy narrative. The rest of the cast is uneven at best, and the family scenes are rather dull.

A few action sequences help keep the film going so it doesn't drag too much, but they are not enough to keep one's interest. Ultimately, there are two or three scenes done quite well in the midst of a below average movie. In the scenes he needs to run, Neeson looks tired after taking the first stride. Viewers won't get too much farther into the film before they tire as well.