Blacklight: Liam Neeson Film Is Laughably Bad

Liam Neeson stars as Travis Block in director Mark Williams' BLACKLIGHT, an Open Road Films release. Credit: Ben King/Open Road Films.

Blacklight is so laughably bad that perhaps the film would be better off going direct to VOD than play as a theatrical exclusive.

It is a bad sign when an action film starring Liam Neeson does not have a theatrical press screening. It is never a good sign when action films are only available via links. My experience with this film is not a good one. After ten minutes of staring at the buffering circle of death, you start getting the idea that fate has a different idea. After sending an email saying that I was giving up because of buffering, the studio logo finally appeared on the screen. To put it simply, I would have been better off doing something else instead because this film is bad.

If you’re not familiar with COINTELPRO, you might want to become familiar with it. J. Edgar Hoover’s paranoia is the gift that keeps on giving. Mark Williams takes Nick May’s 1971-set script and moves it to present day. The filmmaker also makes sure to not point fingers at any one party. Unfortunately for the film, this its mistake. Not pointing fingers after last year’s insurrection is not a good thing. We just know that Sofia Flores (Mel Jamson) is campaigning against the party in office. Ironically, the filming of her rally came on January 7 in Australia. Throw in the date line and it was January 6 in the US. Pure coincidence.

The gist of the film is that Travis Block (Liam Neeson) is a freelance government “fixer.” He’s the type of person that you would find extracting FBI agents and such upon blowing their deep-cover. Block’s career as a fixer means that he wasn’t the best husband and father. He’s trying to make it up to his daughter, Amanda (Claire van der Boom), by being a better grandfather to Natalie. When you have Travis’s job, it’s easy to pass on these traits. His daughter doesn’t like her daughter making the rounds every hour. No matter how many movies you watch, it is so tough to leave this sort of job. It always finds a way to pull you back in.

Anti-government activist Sophia Flores is killed in the film’s opening minutes. However, they make her death look like an accident, too. When FBI agent Dusty Crane (Taylor John Smith) wants out of his cover, Block begins to rethink his career. It is movie law that something bad is about to happen.

After discovering Operation Unity–so classified that it’s only known to FBI director and Hoover wannabe Gerald Robinson (Aidan Quinn)–Block recruits investigative journalist, Mira Jones (Emmy Raver-Lampman). She thinks there’s something we don’t know when it comes to Flores’s death and with Dusty wanting out of his cover. It’s only a matter of time before Block’s family is threatened, too. Exposing the truth and redeeming his career are easier said than done.

Unless it is super urgent that you see Blacklight in theaters, it’s better to just save the money instead. There are better films starring Liam Neeson that you could watch like Widows. You know what? Just watch Widows and thank me later.

DIRECTOR: Mark Williams
SCREENWRITERS: Nick May and Mark Williams
CAST: Liam Neeson, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Taylor John Smith, and Aidan Quinn

Briarcliff Entertainment will release Blacklight in theaters on February 11, 2022.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.