film reel image

film reel image

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Blacklight 2022 * * * Stars


Blacklight was released in February of this year. February (or January) at the movies is well, Neeson time. Liam Neeson that is. Blacklight supplies the type of role that is tailored to an Everyman everlast such as this dude. "My end is now". Gosh I sure hope not Liam.

Blacklight has a running time of about 104 minutes. I wanted the film to be longer for its ending felt a little hasty. It's like the line producers and the writers ran out of wiggle room (I guess it's pretty easy to ensnare the Director of the FBI). Oh well. At least Neeson gives us that scruffy smile right before the closing credits come up. He's a got a special set of skills (duh) and now his character's got OCD to boot (that's a new one). 

So yeah, Blacklight initially feels like it could roam into direct-to-video territory. Not so fast as Lee Corso would say. Blacklight's director (Mark Williams) elevates the material here. He bulks up the budget ($43 million), gives Blacklight a dramatic feel as opposed to just straight bodies in motion, and has an actor like Aidan Quinn match wits with good old Bryan Mills (we missed you Aiden!). I tell ya, Mr. Quinn is almost unrecognizable. His portrayal of Joe O'Malley in Stolen Summer (the last time I saw him in a flick) was a long long time ago.

Blacklight is a hard-nosed Neeson actioner. It's slickster apparatus as it moves at a fleet-footed clip. Liam plays Travis Block, a guy who watches over or fixes damaged FBI agents as they make their way into the field. Block carries his job with aplomb until his own superiors betray him. 

Yeah I liked what Blacklight was about and for the most part, how it was about. Despite maybe a couple of production value mishaps (the FBI office interiors sure seemed a little stark), Williams scores a minor directorial victory. He knows where to put the camera, he knows how to stage action concatenations that pop (lots of car chases, shootouts, and foot chases), and he knows how to present that Neeson butt-kicking, smarter-than-your-average bear formula (if it ain't broke, don't attempt to fix it). Blacklight leaves "the light on" for Liam Neeson to keep doing his stuff. "Good luck".   

Written by Jesse Burleson

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