Thursday 28 July 2022

Movie Review: Blacklight (2022)

An action thriller, Blacklight rehashes tired ideas with plastic production values and an inane script.

In Washington DC, political nominee Sofia Flores is murdered in a staged hit-and-run. Meanwhile the FBI's off-the-books fixer Travis Block (Liam Neeson) extracts an undercover agent after her identity is revealed by a violent white nationalist group. Despite suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder, Travis has been quietly helping FBI Director Gabriel Robinson (Aidan Quinn) for years, but now wants to slow down and spend more time with his granddaughter.

But his plans to drift into retirement are disrupted when disgruntled FBI agent Dusty Crane approaches reporter Mira Jones (Emmy Raver-Lampman) with shocking revelations about Flores' death and a secret program run by Robinson targeting civilians. Travis attempts to bring Dusty under control, but assassins are soon in pursuit.

The plot becomes more ludicrous with every passing scene, the car chases are boring, the shoot-outs are muddled and over-the-top, the production design is flat, and the dialogue is at the first-draft level. Other than Neeson, the acting sinks to daytime television levels. Blacklight is an embarrassment all around, director and co-writer Mark Williams somehow frittering a production budget of $40 million on a witless and instantly forgettable debacle.

The levels of ineptitude are staggering. The hit-and-run death of a popular political candidate in Washington DC is shrugged off. Dusty exposes himself to exceptional risks arranging in-person meetings to provide information he could have sent in an email. An FBI agent is gunned down on the street and no one bothers to investigate. An enormous gunfight takes place at the home of the FBI Director, leaving about a dozen dead bodies littered on the premises, and not one siren is heard in the distance. And family members are being placed in a witness protection program.

Neeson cruises through Blacklight seemingly oblivious to the surrounding dross. At 70 he is far too old for the role, but at least his grandfather label is the only plot element that rings true.

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