Director: Mark Williams
Writers: Nick May, Mark Williams, Brandon Reavis
Stars: Liam Neeson, Aidan Quinn, Taylor John Smith
Since 2019, it seems that Liam Neeson has made a habit of starring in mediocre action thrillers. “Cold Pursuit” wasn’t the greatest thriller of all time, but with its dark comedy and helpful performances, it was unique enough to deserve a viewing. “Honest Thief” and “The Marksman” were two movies that I began to dislike more with each passing day: “Honest Thief” took an interesting concept and destroyed it with lumbering acting, incomprehensible editing, and infrequent, poor action sequences. . ; “The Marksman” was just plain boring (and let’s not even mention “The Ice Road”, which is one of the most embarrassing things I’ve ever seen, after my own reflection). All that said, “Blacklight” is kind of a remarkable, remarkable movie that was released in theaters rather than straight to DVD.
I knew this movie was going to be bad because of one specific thing: its director. Directed by Mark Williams, who also directed “Honest Thief,” I should have taken Mr. Williams’ name as a stern warning to avoid seeing this in theaters and instead do literally anything else with my time. “Blacklight” is less of an action movie and more of a political thriller, and when I say political thriller, I mean it’s a movie where people have long, drawn-out conversations about politics, politicians, political espionage, and conspiracy. I mean, this is a boring movie.
I found myself struggling, and failing, to stay awake while watching this. “Blacklight” is not an action movie, it’s a movie where two people at the same time (always two people at the same time, the movie hardly has any sequences where more than two people talk to each other at the same time). it has been too expensive to film them) talk to each other about boring and uninteresting topics. Director Mark Williams seems oblivious to what makes dialogue compelling to watch; Scene after scene, “Blacklight” shows people having a conversation; now some of my favorite movies are full of interesting and tight dialogue. This movie is not.
But you don’t mind the conversations! You’re going to watch this movie for its supposedly rough and brutal action! You want to see Liam Neeson get dirty and do what he does best! In that case, you should go to your local Best Buy, buy “Taken” and check that out instead. “Blacklight” doesn’t have a lot of action, and when there is action, it’s the most mediocre, generic, pedestrian action I’ve seen since the kung-fu movie I did in high school (yells at Albert). One compliment I can give is that the action is slightly better edited than in “Honest Thief”. When the fists are thrown, you can see the punches connect, and the climactic firefight is mildly exciting, and then inexplicably ruined by a drastic, random change in editing that turns the sequence into a borderline seizure-inducing disaster: seriously, if you have epilepsy, you’d better leave the theater at the start of the third act shootout and never come back.
These days, going to see a Liam Neeson movie is like coming home to an abusive spouse: they may end up surprising you with moments of genuine love and tenderness, but more often than not they’ll beat you to the punch. “Blacklight” pummeled me into submission. And, in fact, I’m considering putting a restraining order on director Mark Williams. Liam’s name used to mean something in the wild world of action movies. “The Commuter”, “Run All Night” and “Non-Stop” are three of Neeson’s semi-recent films that are genuinely good and of high quality. Now, Mr. Neeson stars in direct-to-DVD embarrassments that legitimately make sitting at home and staring at the ceiling a more exciting pursuit.