Action thrillers and Liam Neeson go together like sunshine and daisies. They were meant for each other, as the tall Irish-man fights for justice, revenge, and keeps his family safe in pretty much every film. His latest is Blacklight, a secret agent thriller that puts Neeson in the center spotlight as he navigates a web of national dirty secrets while of course, keeping his family safe. Settling back on the action in lieu of more thrilling atmospheric sequences, Blacklight conjures up enough fun for a watch at home, despite its rote story and dialogue. For Liam Neeson Fans Only.
Neeson is almost 70-years old and it's clear he is long gone from his days of The Phantom Menace and Taken. He's not playing a guy who can run two miles, beat up fifteen villains, and then have time to shoot an anti-aircraft missile. That's not him anymore. Instead, writer/director Mark Williams (Honest Thief, Copshop), allows Neeson to still take out the bad guys, but from a different perspective, including igniting explosions from a safe distance and packing a couple of brutal punches of the physical kind to those who cross his path. Blacklight would have flowed much better if Neeson had a younger partner by his side cutting up the screen, but with this film, it's more of a melodramatic affair than anything with constant action.
After an up-and-coming political figure that highly resembles Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is murdered, secret agent Travis Block (Liam Neeson) is called into action by the only person he answers to - the director of the FBI and long-time friend Gabriel (Aidan Quinn). As the story unfolds, Block's colleagues come out of the woodwork to make public certain situations and actions by national security and the FBI that would be detrimental to those agencies. The Bad Boys moment comes to light as well, when Block's daughter and granddaughter become involved as well.
The rough edges around Blacklight never stop due to its lack of any substantial or exciting action other than watching Liam Neeson occasionally punch or headbutt someone. His co-star is a journalist who is trying to get out of this story, but she serves no purpose in the action arena as her character doesn't really know how to fight, once again leaving all the physical choreography to a near-seven-decade-old Neeson.
With a movie like this, there needs to be consistent and engaging action beats, but there's too much dead air in between scenes to really get anything going. And it's easy to see how the writer and director used the real-life culture of right-wing vs left-wing politics to engage in some espionage and grit in regards to cover-ups and trying to preserve one's side of thinking. It's just too bad that nothing really ever comes of it in the film or that Neeson doesn't pull out a lightsaber of justice and take out the bad guys. This movie really needed a lightsaber.
Performances are wooden and stale for the most part, but then again, how many times has Liam Neeson made this movie in a plane, a car, or any other vehicle? He should be punching bad guys in space by now. The action sequences are capably made and feature some excitement, but then again, there's nothing new here, along with some rather laughable CGI moments. For those who are deeply in love with the Neeson universe, Blacklight will satisfy. But for all others, there are better movies out there in theaters. For Fans Only!