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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Blacklight (M) - 104 minutes

Blacklight is an action crime procedural starring Liam Neeson as an off the books FBI agent.

The movie starts with a young woman, Sofia Flores (Mel Jarnson), rallying a buoyant crowd to stand up to the US government … and then something happens to her.

Next, we cut to a group of rednecks in an incendiary situation, with Travis Block (Neeson) coming to the rescue of a fellow special agent, who has gotten sloppy.

Block is a close ally of FBI director Gabriel Robinson (Aidan Quinn), who recruited him more than 20 years ago, but their history goes back much further than that.

In short, Block is brought in to clean up messy situations involving agents that have strayed from the path.

And another case involving such an agent is brewing.

That concerns Dusty Crane (Taylor John Smith), who was trailing Sofia Flores and is ready to spill his guts to the press.

Block can’t let that happen and a massive chase involving a garbage truck follows.

Along the way, Block tries to intimidate the journalist, Mira Jones (Emmy Raver-Lampman), whom Crane has contacted.

But there is a lot more here than at first meets the eye, with power and control at the core of what is going down. Blood will be spilt.

Meanwhile, while Block is good at what he does for the agency, the same can’t be said for his personal life.

He freely admits he wasn’t a good father to Amanda (Claire van der Boom), but wants to make up for that with his granddaughter Natalie (Gabriella Sengos).

To that end, he is contemplating leaving the agency.

But first he has to win back the trust of Amanda, who knows firsthand what an obsessive-compulsive her father is.

His paranoia is starting to rub off onto Natalie.

In every respect, the stakes are high.

Blacklight is director Mark Williams’ second cinematic collaboration with Neeson. The pair worked together on Honest Thief (2020).

The ending of the film is never in doubt and most steps along the way are, unfortunately, too obvious.

While the story by Nick May is presented as a moral dilemma, it is clear very early who the good guys and bad guys are.

There’s action aplenty to ramp up the testosterone, only I found it hard to swallow some of the leaps of faith necessary to buy what was on offer.

Given the inferior script, Neeson does as much as he can to muster belief in his flawed character.

Emmy Raver-Lampman tries to invest authority into her role as an investigative reporter.

Claire van der Boom plays along as Block’s wary daughter and there is a cuteness about Gabriella Sengos as the granddaughter.

Aidan Quinn is single dimensional as the FBI director.

I wanted more from Blacklight than I saw.

It is very much a by the numbers thriller.

If not for Neeson in the lead, I dare say the movie wouldn’t have seen the light of day in cinemas.

Rated M, it scores a 5 out of 10.

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