With Blacklight, you know what you are getting when you walk into the theater.
This is a movie with Liam Neeson kicking bad guys’ butts, saving innocent people, and doing it as a man who is in his late 60s.
Neeson has mastered this role by now. He started out in the Taken series, where he was a man with a specific set of skills and continued it through the good, the bad, and the ugly. The one constant is that Neeson sells his character’s abilities in every outing.
In Blacklight, Neeson is the same character type he was in Taken, except this time he is still working for the U.S. Government. Well, there is one difference.
Travis Block is not a man who wants to kill anyone. But sometimes, life doesn’t give you a choice, and that is when Travis proves how capable he really is.
I will not pretend that Blacklight is a good movie. However, it is a fun movie, albeit one with some serious story issues. Go into the movie wanting to have a good time, and it pays off with a handful of great action scenes and Neeson doing his usual solid acting job.
Just don’t think about it too much.
Travis is an FBI agent who works off the books for the Director of the FBI, Gabriel Robinson. His job is to go into tense situations where deep undercover agents have gotten too deep and need to be pulled out. His job is basically to “save the souls” of these troubled agents.
He proves this early int he movie when he goes to pull out an agent deep undercover in a racist trailer park community of good old boys with guns and Confederate flags who have no problem with gunning down cops to save their ideal of America.
He gets her out through some nicely placed distractions. This is one of his characteristics. Travis has PTSD from the Vietnam War. He also has OCD and that is both a help, when he is looking around to find the best plans to succeed, and a hinderance, such as when he drove his wife away years before and has almost pushed his daughter, and his beloved granddaughter away because of his paranoia.
He decides he wants out, but his boss says no.
That leads to the main part of the story. An activist is getting people excited about change, saying she is tired of the government telling women their rights don’t matter and telling people defending social rights make them terrorists. She is very popular and is demanding change.
Then, someone runs her down in an SUV after she gets out of her Uber ride. This was a planned hit and one reporter wants to prove this and starts an investigation. When she gets a call from a man named Dusty who says he has information, things go downhill fast. This man is a deep cover agent and Director Robinson sends in Travis to bring him home.
As you might expect, Travis soon realizes what is going on with his own organization and that puts him at odds with his director, who he has a long history with, and puts a target on his head.
The rest of the movie is a basic Liam Neeson thriller, with him overcoming immense odds while trying to do the right thing.
Watch it for that reason, and throw logic out the window.
That is where the movie falters, when things happen that make no sense. The biggest crime this movie commits is failing to stick the landing. The end, when Travis brings down his superior (that shouldn’t be a spoiler for anyone who has ever watched a movie) is just lackluster, at best. There is no reason Travis’s plan should have worked, other than that he needed to win.
There was also a big subplot with Travis’s daughter and granddaughter. It worked to give him something to fight for and a reason to want out. However, when used as a plot device to pit Travis against his boss, it just seemed overly contrived. The ending of the subplot’s story was also nonsensical and really hurt the movie’s end.
Blacklight is a nice diversion movie, something people can watch when they want to see fun action. There is one big scene with Travis in his director’s house that stands up with most of Neeson’s action movie scenes. There is also a big car chase scene, but mostly that is it for the excitement.
This movie is about Liam Neeson doing something that only he has the specific skill set to pull off in today’s theatrical action movies. Lower all expectations and just go in for a fun night at the movie.