Review by Adam Donato
Mark Williams and Liam Neeson have had quite the collaborative run as of late. Williams, most known for his producing credits, not only directed Neeson in Blacklight, but also did Honest Thief in 2020, a movie that did fairly well considering the state of the pandemic when it was released. Williams is also responsible for action hits such as The Marksman and Copshop. It seems that Williams understands there certainly is a market for tough guy action flicks. Blacklight is going for counter-programming as it opens Valentine’s Day weekend. It has to fend off more romantic affairs such as Marry Me and Death on the Nile. With action nonsense in the form of Moonfall and Jackass Forever doing solid business last weekend, Blacklight will be sure to do its best work this weekend as Uncharted looms over the following weekend. Is Blacklight good enough to stand out amongst a crowded February release schedule?
Ever see screenshots on social media where somebody made a bot write a script about a certain subject? Well, Blacklight is like if you told a bot to write a post-Taken Liam Neeson Action flick. Neeson is a cutthroat federal agent who always gets his man. The only problem? His heart is pulling him elsewhere. He longs to retire so that he can spend more time with his daughter and granddaughter. When tracking down a rogue agent goes awry, Neeson begins to question the morality of his job. Can he find a way to escape the clutches of his corrupt boss or is he just getting too old for this shit? It’s the exact same Liam Neeson movie that has been made dozens of times now. No offense to Neeson, who is just reeling in those paychecks. When his career is all said and done, he will be remembered more for his work pre-Taken than he will for the generic action movies he pumps out yearly. At least he’s not a straight-to-DVD regular like Bruce Willis... yet.
It’s a decent movie overall. There’s a car chase that stands out amongst the rest of the action. The rest is just watching an old guy beat up agents half his age, which feels too much like Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The funniest part of Neeson’s performance is when he is talking with his granddaughter and he sounds just like the Good Cop from The Lego Movie. The audience feels for him because all he cares about is his family, but leaving his job is a complicated task. The only thing that matters is that Neeson’s character is relatable enough so old men can experience the wish fulfillment inherent in every Neeson movie. Most older men love their family and wish they could still kick ass. Apparently, they need to be reminded of this annually.
This movie is weirdly political. It opens with a rally for a Democratic official, where she is calling for free healthcare and such. The following scene, she is murdered in what is clearly an organized affair. Neeson’s boss starts rambling about how cancel culture and social media run this world. He compares himself to a former president who publicly declared something that would be worthy of getting someone fired today. This tracks with the demographic as older generations can’t stand how politically correct the world is today. It’s just weird because that’s the opinion of the bad guy and not of Neeson. So if your political themes are skewing to a younger, more liberal generation, then good luck. The younger demographic who would go watch this movie would certainly rather go see something like Jackass Forever or Uncharted. This review not only predicts a tepid box office debut with even worse legs, but also that this movie will be poorly received compared to Neeson’s other movies. If only audiences knew how good they had it with The Marksman last year.
Pour one out for the wives who get dragged to this movie on Valentine’s Day weekend. Of course, there is certainly an audience for this type of movie and surely won’t be completely ignored. The type of person who looks at their calendar and circles Blacklight’s release date will be satisfied, if not underwhelmed with this whatever movie. Even the best reactions to this movie will be short lived as Blacklight is sure to be forgotten due to its overwhelmingly generic script.
Blacklight hits theaters on February 11.