Review: 'Blacklight' (2022) Dir. Mark Williams
Updated: Mar 28
Continuing his run of action films over recent years, Liam Neeson goes back to basics in a conspiracy thriller that has him prove his passion for performing still is going strong...
FBI fixer Travis Block (Neeson) works off the record for Director of the FBI Gabriel Robinson (Quinn) to help pull back special agents in danger whilst undercover or at risk of having their covers blown.
When a political candidate is murdered, Block is charged with bringing in rogue operative Dusty Cane (Smith) who is trying to prove a huge government conspiracy and FBI cover-up that relates to the murder.
With Block tracking down Cane, he digs deeper into the conspiracy and is pulled into a race against time to find out the truth about those he works for, making sure to protect those closest to him who come under threat...
Turning 70 years young this year, Liam Neeson continues his run of cheap and cheerful action thrillers, proving while he may not be as nimble on his feet as he was a decade ago, he can still use his particular set of skills to dispense explosive action with no frills. He's the go-to action OAP we deserve in an era when former action star Bruce Willis claims leads in films for five minutes work. Neeson growls, bleeds, punches and winces his way to justice every time, and here is no different in a very familiar, tried and tested role.
He's once again playing a former special-ops turned private heavy for hire who has failed to balance his work and personal life, so now is trying to do so in his later years. But trying to be a good father and grandparent isn't easy when you're one of the only people who can help unravel a dangerous conspiracy that threatens the free world.
Neeson continues to be the hitman with a heart, always trying to add some layers to his dark characters who wrestle with their past and atone in the present. You know what to expect by now, and Blacklight takes no chances. He still packs a punch, and gives it his all even if he is getting a little slower now into his seventh decade.
This is text-book action/thriller material, from the story to the score, the hammy script and blazing gun-fights. Yet for fans of Neeson in these 90min outings, it's just what is to be expected.
With a less-than-memorable supporting cast including Emmy Raver-Lampman as a reporter tied up in the danger, Taylor John Smith as the rogue agent trying to bring down the bad guys and Aidan Quinn as the man who may or may not be pulling the strings, the characters they play are a little flat cut from the "action thriller handbook". You can see the twists and the obstacles coming, because it's something we've seen before.
There are a few shoot-outs that fail to drum up any excitement, a couple of not-very-thrilling car chases played out in a very safe environment that has no real danger or risk, and some CGI explosions to add a little heat. It's a shame because this style of thriller is lacklustre for Neeson following his recent films, proving he can do better with the right material and script that at least tries to add something new to the genre and cater to his talent than just have him play the guy we always expect.
While not as innovative as 'The Ice Road' or smart as 'Honest Thief', this is basic stuff from Liam Neeson that delivers few thrills but is just about watchable for his every faithful lean, mean, grizzled performance.
'Blacklight' is a co-production between Zero Gravity Management, Footloose Productions, The Solution Entertainment Group, Sina Studios, Fourstar Films, Elevate Production Finance, Film Victoria, Lightstream Pictures Australia and Screen Australia