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blacklight

★★

starring: liam neeson, aidan quinn, emmy raver-lampman, and claire van der bloom

REVIEWER: lyall carter

Travis Block, a government operative coming to terms with his shadowy past, discovers a plot targeting U.S. citizens and finds himself in the crosshairs of the FBI director he once helped protect.

In 1996 Liam Neeson and Aidan Quinn played frenemies in the Irish classic (and one of my favorite films of all time) Michael Collins. Over two decades later they’re back again as friends who end up turning on each other in Blacklight. While Blacklight is definitely watchable with moments of action and suspense, it all feels very generic, as if we’ve seen this Liam Neeson flick several times before. 

 

Travis Block (Neeson) lives and fights in the shadows. A freelance government “fixer,” Block is a dangerous man whose assignments have included extracting agents out of deep-cover situations. When Block discovers a shadowy program called Operation Unity is striking down ordinary citizens for reasons known only to Block’s boss, FBI chief Robinson (Quinn), he enlists the help of a journalist (Raver-Lampman), but his past and present collide when his daughter and granddaughter are threatened. Now Block needs to rescue the people he loves and expose the truth for a shot at redemption. Nothing and no one is safe when secrets are hidden in Blacklight.

 

Narratively Blacklight plays like nearly any action thriller you’ve seen. There’s a betrayal, a conspiracy, a car chase, and some gun battles. But, for an action thriller, it just all feels a little bit too safe. There is a plot hook regarding the current hostile nature of the political and cultural landscape that if it had of been central to the story could have made Blacklight stand out from all the rest in a gritty, fresh way. 

 

But while Neeson and Quinn make it enjoyable, the plot markers are hit exactly when you’d expect, you’ve discovered the twist before they’ve even begun to unravel it, and while the action sequences are technically sound sadly there's no adrenaline pumping, heart in your mouth moments to be found here. 

 

While Blacklight is definitely watchable with moments of action and suspense, it all feels very generic, as if we’ve seen this Liam Neeson flick several times before.

★★