Film Review: Blacklight
Director: Mark Williams
Cast: Liam Neeson, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Taylor John Smith, Aidan Quinn, Claire van der Boom, Tim Draxl, Gabriella Sengos, Yael Stone, Georgia Flood, Andrew Shaw, Zac Lemons, Mel Jarnson
Running Time: 105
Australian Distributor: Rialto Distribution
Over the past decade actor Liam Neeson has established himself as an action hero in sleek thrillers that you can normally guarantee are better than the stock standard films in the genre. Even his films that take a more indie approach, like The Ice Road, always seem to have something about them that makes them an enjoyable watch from beginning to end. That tradition continues with Neeson’s latest film – Blacklight from director Mark Williams (Honest Thief).
Set amongst the current political turmoil of the United States Blacklight follows the events that occur when a political candidate is killed in what appears to be a hit and run accident. Intrepid journalist Mira Jones (Emmy Raver-Lampman – The Umbrella Academy) finds herself doubting that the incident was an accident especially after ‘wanted man’ Dusty Crane (Taylor John Smith – Hunter Killer) tries to contact her about it.
This puts Mira onto the radar of the FBI’s Mr Fix-It, Travis Block (Neeson – Schindler’s List), who is asked to pull Dusty off the street and put him into ‘rehab’. This is a job that Block has done 100s of times previously but it is also a job that has ruined him mentally and causes friction between himself and his daughter, Amanda (Claire van der Boom – Red Hill).
Blacklight may not exactly be a cinematic masterpiece but it is certainly an enjoyable film to watch. First time feature film screenwriter Nick May fills the story with intrigue and suspense while also remembering to make the characters likable for the audience. Neeson’s character, Block, is the kind of the character that would normally be the ‘bad guy’ in these types of films. Instead here May makes him a likable character by showing him in tender moments with not only his daughter but also his granddaughter (Gabriella Sengos ).
The plot allows for Block’s character arc to become just as much as a learning curve as Mira’s investigation is. May is also a smart enough screenwriter to know that a film like this works better with a mix of action and dramatic moments. Often throughout this film scenes between Mira sitting down and talking to her colleagues or speaking with Block are just as suspenseful ad the moments when people are fighting for their lives.
May’s screenplay is further enhanced by the work of director Mark Williams. Williams delivers some pretty spectacular car and foot chases all with the city of Melbourne providing a perfect and picturesque back-drop. Williams seems to bring the same intensity to Blacklight that is created on the show that he produces – Ozark, and the result is a film that is guaranteed to bring the big cinematic suspenseful moments all while revealing more about characters that the audience are drawn closer to. The result is a film where the audience are often on the edge of their seat as they actually care what is going to happen when a character’s life is put in danger.
If you need any further proof that Williams is a sensational director when it comes to the action-thriller genre look no further than the brilliant scenes here as Block is cornered inside a house by a team of men sent to kill him. The inventive way and shot selection that Williams and his cinematographer, Shelly Johnson (Captain America: The First Avenger), use make this something pretty special.
Once again Neeson seems to enjoy the thrill of being in such a film – he is a master of this genre now and it once again shows in his performance here. He is also well supported by Emmy Raver-Lampman who reveals herself as somebody that Hollywood needs to consider for bigger roles while Aussie Claire van der Boom is her usual brilliant self.
At the end of the day what you get here is what we have come to expect from Liam Neeson recently – a slick crime-thriller that draws its audience in with just the right mix of action and drama. If you are a fan of the thriller genre then certainly take a trip to the cinema to check this one out.
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