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"BLACKLIGHT"
(2022) (Liam Neeson, Emmy Raver-Lampman) (PG-13)


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QUICK TAKE:
Drama/Action: An off-the-books FBI fixer uncovers wrongdoings in the agency and tries to make things right, all while concerned about how that might impact his daughter and granddaughter.
PLOT:

Travis Block (LIAM NEESON) is a man who's worked for years as an off-the-books fixer for FBI Director Gabriel Robinson (AIDAN QUINN), specifically in dealing with undercover agents who've run into trouble of any kind. While he excels at that, he hasn't been a good father to Amanda (CLAIRE VAN DER BOOM), but is now trying to make amends, especially as related to his granddaughter, Natalie (GABRIELLA SENGOS). She's started imitating his ultra-safety conscious ways, something that has Amanda concerned.

As does his line of work, with that now involving rogue undercover agent Dusty Crane (TAYLOR JOHN SMITH) who no longer believes in what he's doing and wants to spill the beans to reporter Mira Jones (EMMY RAVER-LAMPMAN), although her boss, Drew Hawthorne (TIM DRAXL), doesn't yet think there's a story there for him to run.

As Travis tries to help the agitated agent, he soon uncovers troubling facts, including a secret operation that simply doesn't sit well with him despite all of the amoral things he's done over the years in his job. From that point on, and while worrying that his family will be swept up in the mess, Travis does what he can to make things right.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10

Years ago and believing that one of our cats at the time might have "done her business" outside of her litter box, we bought a blacklight flashlight and decided to do some nighttime surveillance sleuthing. While we did not find signs of any such wrongdoing on her part, I can say that if you're easily grossed out, I would not suggest doing the same.

For you will likely find, as we most certainly did, some disgusting stuff that only a blacklight can reveal. But what was most shocking were huge stains on the bedroom carpet - courtesy of the previous owners -- that were invisible to the regular, naked eye in any other sort of light. I can only hope it was a huge cup of spilled coffee or something similar and not anything that would require a Ghostbuster and/or forensics detective to solve.

Yes, that's the beauty and danger of using such ultraviolet light in that it can reveal things you don't expect. Such is the case in "Blacklight," although that sort of device and wavelength of light are only metaphors in this offering from writer Nick May and director Mark Williams.

What isn't surprising to discover, however, is that Liam Neeson is once again playing a resourceful tough-guy character "with a special set of skills" who must contend with bad guys all while dealing with domestic affairs that end up sucked into the proceedings.

Here, the veteran actor plays Travis Block, an off-the-books "fixer" who works for FBI Director Gabriel Robinson (a mostly unrecognizable Aidan Quinn -- at least to those of us who only remember him as the handsome leading man of films made thirty and forty years ago) in helping deep undercover agents get out of whatever physical or mental mess and predicament in which they find themselves.

Travis would like to retire to spend more time with his granddaughter (Gabriella Sengos) and her mom (Claire van der Boom) to whom he wasn't the greatest dad back when she was a kid. But Robinson assigns him to deal with Dusty Crane (Taylor John Smith), a troubled agent who's threatening to spill the beans about agency wrongdoings to reporter Mira Jones (Emmy Raver-Lampman), whose boss (Tim Draxl) initially thinks she has a nothing burger sort of story.

As we discovered with our blacklight experience, Travis ends up seeing things he wished he hadn't. But in his case and having developed a conscience after years of operating without one, he can't simply look away and pretend the problem isn't there. And thus, with his -- natch -- special set of skills -- he sets out to make things right, both professionally and personally.

We've seen this sort of movie a gazillion times before, and it seems like Neeson has played this sort of character an equal number of times. But he does it well enough to mostly offset some of the film's questionable/illogical story and character developments, along with some rough, on-the-nose dialogue at times and an ending that feels rather jarringly, uber-rushed.

If you enjoy the actor doing this sort of thing, you might be entertained enough. But don't look too deeply with a blacklight or you'll shine too much light on the flick's issues to ignore seeing them. "Blacklight" rates as a 4 out of 10.




Reviewed February 7, 2022 / Posted February 12, 2022


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