Bryan Mills, played by Liam Neeson, has a particular aura in the Taken franchise, which is usually defined by covert operations, lost family, gun battles, and chilling retribution. In many respects, Mark Williams’ Blacklight resembles Taken — mostly owing to Liam Neeson’s part — but it is essentially a separate picture, even if the final product is an ordinary genre piece. Although its dramatic vehicle chases and shootouts keep spectators engaged, Blacklight does not provide any fresh thrills for ardent action aficionados.
Blacklight begins with covert FBI officer Travis Block (Neeson) rescuing an agent from a profound predicament, which requires tenacity and a predilection for concocting risky distractions (like blowing up an entire house). Block reports directly to FBI head Robinson (Aidan Quinn), with whom he appears to have a good connection and for whom he works “off the books” with no question posed. Block aspires to spend more time with his daughter Amanda (Claire Van Der Boom) and little granddaughter Natalie (Gabriella Sengos) while managing his perilous duties, but he falls short of expectations. Block’s obsessive-compulsive disorder, along with his ongoing worry as a result of his employment, makes it impossible for him to maintain a work-life balance.
Undercover FBI agent Dusty (Taylor John Smith) turns rogue after the strange murder of anti-government activist Sofia Flores, claiming to have pertinent data regarding the bureau’s immoral techniques. Dusty eludes Block’s attempts to bring him in gently by attempting to contact journalist Mira (Emmy Raver-Lampman), only to be assassinated in broad open by unidentified operatives. This episode, along with Mira’s growing suspicions about the bureau’s genuine motivations, causes Block to reconsider his own place in the status quo, forcing him to choose between turning a blind eye to injustice and directly combating it. Naturally, this would put his family’s safety in jeopardy, as well as risks becoming a pariah in the eyes of his peers.
Blacklight follows the tropes of the ethically ambiguous protagonist, the aggrieved agent, and the truth-seeking reporter, and plays out as a typical action drama. The tempo is fast enough just to keep the tale going along, and Block’s character is well-developed, at least within the confines of the main plot. The film’s action parts, notably the chase sequence between Block and Dusty and the dramatic meeting near the climax, are its strongest points. There is discussion of Operation Unity, a clandestine operation that allows for the death of innocent civilians for unexplained reasons.
The phrase COINTELPRO is used a few times, but no attempt has been made to explain the correctness of Operation Unity, its scope, or its implications. Neeson slips into the role of Block with ease, portraying a guy conflicted between following orders and having more time with family. Quinn and Raver-Lampman do a good job in their roles, propelling Blacklight to its inevitable conclusion. Blacklight isn’t really noteworthy or noteworthy; it’s a very hollow succession of talk, action, and speech. However, seeing Neeson do what he does best and losing oneself in the exhilarating predictability of hand-to-hand fighting and shootouts is entertaining.
On February 11, 2022, Blacklight will be scheduled to air. The picture is classified PG-13 for severe violence, action, and profanity and runs for 105 minutes.