Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 28, 2022)
Because he’s made so many films in the same vein, it seems hard to believe that Liam Neeson’s move from Serious Dramatic Actor to Aging Action Hero only took root 13 years ago with 2009’s Taken. This trend continues with 2022’s thriller Blacklight.
Travis Block (Neeson) works as a “fixer” who deals with tasks the US government wants kept under the radar. Along the way, however, he finds some efforts that seem to go too far even by his standards.
Block learns that a hidden program called “Operation Unity” takes violent aim at US citizens for murky reasons. Concerned about this, Block pairs with journalist Mira Jones (Emmmy Raver-Lampmann) to get to the truth, a decision that leads to potential peril for Block as well as his family.
Despite all the time I spend in front of my TV to review discs for this site, I still get out to actual theaters on a regular basis. As a member of a program that allows “pre-paid” admission to multiple movies a week, I find myself willing to see plenty of movies that I wouldn’t attend if I needed to shell out $10 a pop. After all, this makes them essentially “free”, so why not take a chance?
That doesn’t mean I’ll literally go to any film, though. I found myself open to Blacklight when it hit my local multiplex, but the film’s brutal reviews kept me home.
Because of this site’s unrelenting need for new content, I don’t require as much motivation to view something in my home theater. This brought Blacklight onto my TV, where I could judge for myself whether or not it deserved its abysmal eight percent Rotten Tomatoes score.
To answer that last question, no, it doesn’t. Eight percent “fresh” implies a stinker of epic proportions, and Blacklight never turns into anything that awful.
Instead, Blacklight simply seems relentlessly meh. It doesn’t actually work as a movie, but it also seems too mediocre to turn into anything memorably bad.
Blacklight desperately wants to be a gritty 1970s political thriller ala 3 Days of the Condor. However, it seems too numb-skulled to pull off that tone.
Instead, it musters dull, one-note characters who embark on dull, semi-random escapes without much logic or purpose. Sure, the general conspiracy investigation and its threats offer potential intrigue, but Blacklight comes with such a lethargic tone that no actual excitement results.
Everything and everyone here seems somnambulant. Blacklight comes with the bones of a taut political thrillers but it feels so detached and sluggish that it doesn’t kick into gear.
Too many of the characters simply feel willfully stupid. Many of them make terrible choices solely to motivate narrative events because the writers were too lazy to find superior paths to take.
As much as Neeson sticks with the oft-similar “aging bad-ass” parts these days, he still manages some good flicks. For instance, I liked 2019’s Cold Pursuit quite a lot.
Unfortunately, Neeson makes more losers than winners these days. Blacklight winds up in the former pile, as it delivers a dull, tedious stab at a thriller.