Blacklight parents guide

Blacklight Parent Guide

These characters aspire to be cardboard cutouts.

Overall D

Theaters. Travis Block is a specialized government operative with a troubled conscience. When he discovers a deadly conspiracy within the government, he sees a chance to right the wrongs of his past.

Release date February 11, 2022

Violence C-
Sexual Content A
Profanity C
Substance Use C

Why is Blacklight rated PG-13? The MPAA rated Blacklight PG-13 for strong violence, action and language.

Run Time: 108 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Travis Block (Liam Neeson) is an off-the-books fixer for the FBI, tasked with getting deep-cover agents out of hot water. His latest charge, one Dusty Crane (Taylor John-Smith), was picked up by the police after being found parked illegally, full of prescription drugs and alcohol, with a loaded handgun sitting on the passenger seat. He didn’t come quietly.

Once Travis catches up to him in a holding cell, Dusty insists that he wasn’t planning to use the gun – he was just working up the courage to talk to a journalist about a recent undercover op. He certainly isn’t more cooperative now that he’s in prison: while Travis tries to bring him in, Dusty makes a break for it. Now Travis is going to have to follow up all leads to find him, including Mira Jones (Emmy Raver-Lampman), the aforementioned journalist. She isn’t exactly keen to start talking to a fed who just chased off the best source of her career.

Some people would argue that every Liam Neeson movie is roughly the same. That’s not entirely true: Some of them are worse than others. Far worse. This one is the cinematic equivalent of dropping a firecracker down a port-a-potty on a busy construction site in the middle of July. Or, bluntly, it’s a catastrophe.

The characters aspire to be cardboard cutouts, but I think they’re closer to being emojis crudely drawn on Styrofoam packing peanuts. The dialogue is even worse. It alternates between bland and cringe-inducing and ends up sounding like it was written by a 12-year-old with a crush on Tom Clancy. In a truly unforgivable failure, the special effects are terrible and plasticky. They probably could have been rendered on a PlayStation 2.

None of that really matters, though, because no one who has graduated middle school is going to make it through the first ten minutes. They’re not going to care that the plot is incomprehensible nonsense, that Melbourne (the Australian city where they shot the film) looks almost nothing like Washington D.C., or that Liam Neeson is old enough to be completely unconvincing in a fist fight. Parents don’t have much to worry about though, apart from the usual shootings and a smattering of profanity. From a parent’s perspective, I’d be more worried about this film’s potential to actually make teens dumber – for at least 108 minutes. I’ll let you know if I still feel stupid tomorrow.

Directed by Mark Williams. Starring Liam Neeson, Aidan Quinn, Taylor John Smith. Running time: 108 minutes. Theatrical release February 11, 2022. Updated

Watch the trailer for Blacklight

Rating & Content Info

Why is Blacklight rated PG-13? Blacklight is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for strong violence, action and language.

Violence: People are shot with firearms. A character is struck and killed by a car. A person’s neck is broken. Two characters are electrocuted.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: There are 13 scatological curses and occasional mild profanities and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are seen drinking, and one is seen taking unspecified prescription medication.

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Blacklight Parents' Guide

The FBI has a rather troubled history. The film even mentions COINTELPRO. What was COINTELPRO? Why was it so problematic? What are some of the implications of that operation? What other dubious operations has the FBI run?

Journalism is a dangerous occupation. What are some other high-profile exposés which involved serious risk to journalists? What happens to government whistleblowers when they expose the outrageous behaviour of their government? Who are some notable whistleblowers?

Home Video

Related home video titles:

You can see Liam Neeson playing essentially the same character in most of his films, including Taken, Taken 2, Taken 3, The Commuter, Non-Stop, Cold Pursuit, and The Marksman.

Smarter films about the dangers of exposing government programs can be found in The Bourne Ultimatum, Snowden, The Post, Official Secrets, and State of Play.

If you’re determined to see Liam Neeson as a real life FBI agent (with a truly dreadful wig), try Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House.