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Blacklight (2022)

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Travis Block, a shadowy Government agent who specializes in removing operatives whose covers have been exposed, uncovers a deadly conspiracy within his own ranks that reaches the highest echelons of power.


Blacklight is another action thriller featuring a typecast Liam Neeson. This movie is exactly what you can expect and by the numbers. However, it convinces with great acting performances, interesting characters and solid pace.

The story revolves around government operative Travis Block who has been working for his close friend of old date Gabriel Robinson for several decades. However, he is getting disillusioned and exhausted as he suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder and paranoia. Our protagonist also aims to spend more time with his intelligent grand-daughter and his suspicious own daughter. The tormented man who wants to call it a day is ordered to go on a mission that is going to change his life. He has to prevent agent Dusty Crane who is about to go rogue to leak confidential information to investigative journalist Mira Jones. As the agent is gunned down in front of Travis Block and Mira Jones, the former begins to suspect that his boss and friend Gabriel Robinson has become corrupt and dangerous. He attempts to stop him with the help of the dynamic journalist but has to protect his family from possible retaliation.

This action thriller convinces on several levels. First of all, the acting performances are certainly above average. Liam Neeson plays the aging, resilient and troubled agent with much charisma and depth. Taylor John Smith convinces as disillusioned, nervous and unstable agent going rogue. Aidan Quinn delivers the goods as analytical, influential and self-confident director. Emmy Raver-Lampman celebrates her breakthrough performance as a determined, quirky and tough investigative journalist.

The different characters complement one another splendidly. The protagonist is a profound anti-hero with significant weaknesses but also resilient strengths. The antagonist has much depth as he turns out to be a friend who was once kind-hearted, loyal and reliable before he got corrupted by influence, money and power. The agent gone rogue is a shell of his former self and his relationship to the target he refused to assassinate adds much depth to the plot. The investigative journalist represents a strong moral compass and grows through the challenges she has to overcome throughout the movie.

This film also has very decent pace. The most important characters are introduced perfectly by portraying their environments without wasting too much time on unnecessary side stories. The action scenes include car chases, explosions and shootings. The explosive rescue mission in a decrepit trailer park, the race through downtown Washington and the shootout in the director’s mansion are this movie’s stunning highlights. Liam Neeson might be celebrating his seventieth birthday this year but he is nevertheless credible as aging agent who looks at least ten years younger than he actually is.

A special shout goes out to the scenes ridiculing racist extremists. The way they are portrayed in the trailer park is a wonderful statement in times when such people attempt to storm the Capitol and menace society. The social criticism however also expands to governmental institutions that are portrayed as dangerously corrupt and morally debatable. Even investigative journalism is criticized in this film as editors in chief are shown as arrogant bosses consumed by attention, fame and self-love.

The reason why this very good movie loses a few points in my final verdict is because Liam Neeson has already played in so many similar movies since his appearance in Taken one and a half decades ago. He should try to avoid being typecast as movies such as Schindler’s List show that he can play much more interesting roles than the lonesome old man on a suicide mission he seems to incarnate in almost every single film. Blacklight’s plot is by the numbers and easily predictable. This movie has lots of action, atmosphere and emotional depth but it is critically lacking any kind of tension. In addition to this, the happy ending seems to be both rushed and stereotypical.

At the end of the day, Blacklight is recommended to fans of fast-paced action thrillers and actor Liam Neeson. However, the movie fails to leave a deeper impression because there have been so many similar films in recent years. It offers great entertainment if you are looking for escapism to switch your brain off but it certainly won’t go down as a potential genre highlight.