Critics Are Savaging New Liam Neeson Thriller

'Blacklight' has 4% rating on Rotten Tomatoes
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 11, 2022 11:16 AM CST

(Newser) – Liam Neeson has made some great action movies, but Blacklight definitely isn't one of them, critics say. The thriller, in which Neeson plays an FBI "fixer" who uncovers a government conspiracy, has a lowly 4% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics complain that the movie seems generic, with Neeson playing a "man with a particular set of skills who wants to protect his family" character extremely familiar from numerous movies, starting with 2008's Taken. It was directed and co-written by Mark Williams, who also directed Neeson in 2020's Honest Thief. Four takes:

  • The film mainly serves as a "time-filler until the next, better Liam Neeson action movie comes along," writes Frank Scheck at the Hollywood Reporter. "Lacking a high concept or memorable central character, the film is a by-the-numbers actioner that coasts on its star’s soulful gravitas and low-key charisma," writes Scheck, who praises the 69-year-old actor's work ethic.

  • Some very faint praise from Todd Gilchrist at the Wrap: "Blacklight is an unsurprisingly tepid action thriller which extends this odd phase of Neeson’s career, but the best thing that can probably be said about it is that it’s not materially worse than most of the others," he writes, adding that the actor "hasn’t followed in Bruce Willis’ footsteps and fully given up on acting for anything other than his paycheck, but it would be tough to argue successfully that he’s working very hard in a role like this."
  • Barry Hertz at the Globe and Mail disagrees on the Willis point. The "bottom-of-the-barrel" Blacklight is a "movie that Bruce Willis would deem below his standards," he writes. Hertz describes the action scenes as "underwhelming" and complains that Neeson's character doesn't even get many butts to kick. "There is one main bad guy here and a measly two henchmen, each of whose butts takes forever to finally meet Neeson’s loafers," he writes.
  • Jocelyn Noveck at the AP says the problem is the material, not Neeson and other stars, including Hamilton performer Emmy Raver-Lampman, who plays a journalist. Neeson "could keep doing this ‘til he’s 80, but surely there’s something better out there," Noveck writes. "As the film’s closing song goes, 'every story needs a hero.' True. But every hero also needs a story. A better one."
(Read more movie review stories.)

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