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Exposed Under A Black Light

By Paul Hall

What goes on within the government outside of the vision of ordinary citizens? Do members of the government hold a vested interest in the individuals who are seeking a political post? In the new film Blacklight, in theaters now, we get to see just how much influence some individuals may have over life.

Travis Block (Liam Neeson) has done the work of FBI Director Gabriel Robinson (Aidan Quinn) for years. Most of Block’s efforts have come via off-the-book assignments. Block doesn’t ask many questions about his assignments and often extricates agents from the most precarious of circumstances and many of those individuals are willing, even eager, to get pulled from the field. Dusty Crane (Taylor John Smith) is not one of them.

Crane is in police custody and his retrieval seems routine for Block. Crane, however, has other plans, immediately finding a path to get away as he is set on telling his story to Mira Jones (Emmy Raver-Lampman), a reporter who is willing to listen. Make no mistake, there are people who would like nothing better than to stop the story before it is written, and in the spy game, no one can be trusted.

I know what you are thinking: I’ve seen this movie with Neeson before. To a point, let’s be honest, you have. That doesn’t mean Neeson doesn’t deliver with films like this on a regular basis. He’s the kind of man in all his roles, and Blacklight is no exception: who you want to believe, who you like and want to root for at every turn. Liam Neeson movies are comfort food for the genre, and as comfort food, Blacklight mainly works.

There is action, suspense and intrigue in two-thirds of the film. It’s by no means a perfect effort, but the story of a man with a past, working hard for his family and ready to walk away, sounds plausible. The revelations throughout the movie add a couple twists, and we take an acceptable journey. Sure, it is tough to believe the grandfather (they do acknowledge Block’s age) can run down the much younger Crane in a foot chase.

Although things seem to be progressing well, the film reaches a point where it just ends. Much like a 1980s television drama, we just wrap it up and things stop, with very little warning. It’s as if someone said, “OK, we are done — everyone go home.” And that extinguishes a large part of the goodwill earned throughout the film.

If you like Neeson, check it out, as he is the reason to make the effort to see Blacklight. I’ve been a fan of similar efforts through the years, but the bottom line is I have come to expect more from his films than this ride provided. Someone shined a black light on this film before it ended, and things revealed under a black light are rarely good.

Paul’s Grade: C+

Rated PG-13
Stars: Liam Neeson, Aidan Quinn, Taylor John Smith, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Claire van der Boom
Director: Mark Williams


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